This course explores the growth of global wine production and trade over the past three centuries. You will explore key themes in wine history and learn about the methods and resources that historians use to understand the past.
The course is designed for both wine-lovers who want to know more about their favorite beverage, and for history-lovers who are curious about the growing field of commodity history.
Topics include the differences between the “old” and “new” worlds of wine, the changing nature of taste, and innovations in wine quality. We’ll discuss the historical development of appellation systems to classify wine, as well as the importance of global trade in creating the world’s distinctive wine regions.
The course is divided into six modules. Each module includes short video lectures, guided readings, and primary sources. Videos have been filmed in four countries, including France and Australia. All reading materials are in English.
This is an introductory course that requires no previous knowledge of wine or modern history. Students will be given the tools and skills to start researching the histories of their own favorite wines. The online discussion forum creates a unique opportunity to connect with other students of wine history.
Week One: Introduction to Wine History
Why do historians think about when they think about wine? Introduction to wine as a historical commodity.
Week Two: The Old World
Defining, mapping and understanding the historic wine-producing regions of Europe.
Week Three: The New World
How European colonialism created new wine industries, and how this New World has forged its own identity.
Week Four: Crisis and Change
How the world’s wine industries have faced historic crises like phylloxera, and how they have changed as a result.
Week Five: Taste and Quality
Did wine taste good in the past? We’ll consider the historical problems in making quality wine, how taste for certain styles has changed over time, and why it is so difficult to know how wine used to taste.
Week Six: The Future of Wine History
Resources and skills for undertaking historical research into wine; course conclusions.