Harvard Wine Snobs Lose To Booth

Move over Harvard Business School.

When it comes to swirling, sniffing and sipping a fine wine, you’re not match for the University of Chicago’s Booth School.

Teams from Booth and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School sailed past six other schools, including Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, to become finalists in the Left Bank Bordeaux Cup.

Of all the friendly competitions set up among business schools, from case study and business plan contests to MBA Olympics, this wine tasting event has to be the most refined and elegant of all. It is held at the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue in New York and the tantalizing prize is a trip to France for the finals at one of the world’s most famous wineries, Chateau Lafite in Bordeaux.

“Insight, finesse and accuracy of judgments have allowed the universities of Chicago and Wharton to carry this year’s competition,” a spokesman for the competition said.

Winning involved a bit more than finesse, actually. Among a flight of sweet wines, the teams had to initially identify which two wines came from the same vintage. Most teams answered correctly, but then came the more challenging question: Which year did the two wines come from?

The Booth team guessed 2002 and it was right, landing the MBA students in first place. Wharton finished second. Both teams now advance to the finals this summer to compete against a pair of teams each from Asia, France, and the rest of Europe.

But most questions required much more than a guess. They required answers from true wine snobs. Examples from a reporter who tweeted several of the queries:

Which year did the Commanderie de Bontemps come into existence? (A: 1950)

How many fourth growths are there in the 1855 classification? (A: 10)

How many comunnale AOCs are there in the Medoc? (A: 6)

What is found at the tip of the Medoc peninsula? (A: Pointe de Grave)

What does the acronym INAO stand for? (A: Institut national d’Origine et Qualité)

Classified as a second growth in 1855, Chateau Lascombes, located in Margaux takes its name from… (A: the knight Antoine de Lascombes)

In 2010, wine consumption in the US stood at… (A: 330 mln cases)

Alcoholic and malolactic fermentations are two essential parts of winemaking. In which order do they take place? (A: alcoholic then malolactic)

On the 25 may 1787, Chateau Margaux received a visit from a famous person, who was it? (A: Thomas Jefferson)

The winners in 2011 were the teams from Harvard Business School in first place, followed by the Chinese University, Hong Kong, with the Nyenrode Business Universiteit, Netherlands, tying with Wharton School for third place.