Geography of Wine

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Boyer
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 12:50
End: 14:05
Field Work: Day 1 - Lisbon - Friday, 27 September | Portugal
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Analysis of physical and cultural forces which shape the production, consumption and great variety of wine in the world.  This complex commodity will be examined through its economic, social, political and ideological impacts in different parts of the world throughout history, and up to the present.  Particular emphasis will be focused on PLACE as an agent in defining the product, major regions and styles, and current trends in the wine world.

Field Work

Country: Portugal
Day: 1 - Lisbon - Friday, 27 September

Portugal's wine reputation has been built around its own indigenous grape varieties, and of course, its classic fortified wines of world renown: Port and Madeira. Rarely seen are the big 'noble' grapes that constitute the majority of wines we recognize, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay, because the Portuguese prefer to reflect the character and style of their wines in grapes best suited to the terrain, topography and climatic variations….and it is just such Portuguese "terroir" that we will be exploring in this field lab. So what is Portuguese wine all about, and how is it changing in the modern era? We will find out, while also learning more about the wine-making and cheese-making processes that create these unique regional products. Reflected in the wine grapes and wine styles, Portugal is a country of contrasting climatic conditions from the cooler regions of the 'Vinho Verde' in the North with its Atlantic influence to the parched climate of the Alentejo in the South. We will be visiting a winery right smack in the middle of the country, and inside the rapidly developing Portuguese 'Silver Coast.' After an assessment of the local terroir, we will take a winery tour with tasting at Quinta da Bassaqueira Winery in the area of wine Azeitão, the "heart" of the Setúbal Peninsula…and an emblematic building in and of itself, symbolizing modernity anchored in tradition. After a local cuisine lunch, we will then visit Museu do Queijo de Azeitao: a museum dedicated to the art of traditional cheese-making located in an 18th century courtyard which is incorporated into a dairy farm. The afternoon will be finished with a visit Jose Maria de Fonseca Winery in the same village, which includes an expansive underground cellar tour. Academic Objectives: 1. Identify unique expression of ‘terroir’ for the region in terms of wine and cuisine; compare/contrast to other regions 2. Participate in proper wine etiquette, wine sensory evaluation, and wine conversation 3. Gain practical experience in label interpretation, wine/food pairing, and recognizing major elements and stylistic differences in wines presented 4. Differentiate between production methods, wine styles, traditions and experimentation between the two wineries