Recap: 2012 Wine Tasting Dinnner

Posted by Pat Donohue | May 24, 2012

Larry Alterman, chief auctioneer, at the MSU Alumni Club of Greater NY's 2012 Wine Tasting Dinner 

Ben Benson’s Steak House hosted the MSU Alumni Club of Greater New York for its 15th Annual Wine Tasting Dinner last Friday, May 18, under bittersweet circumstances.

The Midtown institution, a favorite for power lunchers and red meat enthusiasts alike, will be closing after nearly four decades of outstanding food and hospitality. Our group of alumni, students, family, friends and faculty were honored be among the final patrons before the venue officially closes its door on Father’s Day.

The Club’s signature event attracted alumni from all over the country to New York and proceeds benefitted the Greater New York Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides financial assistance to graduating high school students wishing to attend Michigan State University.

After a cocktail hour at Flatotel’s MODA Lounge, just down the street, the group enjoyed reminiscing and networking with fellow Spartans over a four-course dinner, paired with red, white and dessert wine selections courtesy of Rodney Strong Wine Estates and former alumni board member Bill McPharlin Jr.

In addition to Douglas Estry, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, and Denise Maybank, Interim Vice-President of Student Affairs and Services, the event’s most noteworthy attendee was last year’s scholarship recipient, Kathryn Vetter. A New Jersey native, Kathryn recently completed her freshman year at MSU within the School of Music and currently holds a GPA of 3.9.

Kathryn Vetter at the MSU Alumni Club of Greater NY's 2012 Wine Tasting Dinner

The auction was led by chapter Vice President and auctioneer extraordinaire, Larry Alterman, who corralled eager bidders of alumni spanning six different decades. Some of the items up for bid included one week in a luxury house in Fort Meyers, tickets to the 2012 MSU vs. Notre Dame football game, an MSU basketball game-day experience including a behind-the-scenes tour of the MSU Basketball Center, the ability to name your own menu item at local MSU bar Mercury East, along with various Spartan memorabilia items. In total, our generous donors raised nearly $23,000.

Ben Benson initially earned a degree in biology and intended to become a doctor before redirecting his efforts and opening his namesake steak house—a classic example of how life unfolds, discarding your well-made plans along the way. What remains are the ties that bind. In this instance, those ties are good food, good wine and fellow Spartans.

Plans for next year’s event are already underway and details should be released soon. If you missed the event and would like to make a donation to the scholarship fund, please contact Larry Alterman at

View the complete photo gallery from the 2012 Wine Tasting Dinner here.