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Here’s a Wine Tour You Can Take, or Give as a Gift, Anytime, Anywhere (Virus or No Virus)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wine tours out the window in the wake of COVID-19? There’s a way you can still take a tour of one or more notable wine-producing regions around the world – without even leaving home.

Purdue University has divided its popular Wine Appreciation course into nine modules that can be purchased individually. The mini courses each cover wines from a particular region with wine tasting suggestions, as well as some of the history, scientific principles and practices  of wine growing and making in the region. All good fodder for dinner conversation. Over the right wine, of course.

The modules also make great gifts, for the holidays or any other time of year. And the classes are a great way to whet the appetite for wine travel and to start making plans for post-pandemic excursions.

The regions covered include:

  • Indiana: home to Purdue and a thriving local wine industry. Visit the state where the very first vineyards in the United States were planted.
  • California, Oregon and Washington: the U.S. West Coast, where many great American wines are crafted. Tour from the Central Valley to Napa and from the Willamette Valley to Walla-Walla.
  • Italy: where wine has been produced for 3,000 years (ancient Greece called it Œnotria, the land of vines). Travel to the foothills of the Alps, to the Piedmont, to Tuscany and learn about some of Italia’s “vini famosi.”
  • France 1: Champagne, Burgundy and Beaujolais. Learn about the historic appellations where the classic sparkling wine is produced along with some of the world’s greatest white and red wines.
  • France 2: Bordeaux and Alsace. Join the wine professor in exploring the largest, most famous and most intimidating of all wine regions, as well as one of Europe’s most distinguished cool-climate winegrowing areas.
  • Germany: Europe’s northernmost major winegrowing region, planted to vines since Roman times. Drift down the Rhine and up the Mosel rivers to explore Riesling’s original home.
  • Spain and Portugal: from the country with the most vineyards to the home of Port wine. Explore the vast Iberian Peninsula and some its most outstanding wine regions.
    Australia and New Zealand: a trip to the Southern Hemisphere to two of the modern wine world’s most influential regions. Discover the impact of climate change on global viticulture.
  • South America and South Africa: a tour of Chile, Argentina and Peru, home to the oldest vineyards in the Americas. Follow that with a jump across the ocean to yet another vinous continent, one featuring some of the most amazing scenery among winegrowing regions.
    While lots of promotional wine information exists on the internet, Purdue’s online tours are led by someone who literally wrote the book on wine appreciation – Christian Butzke, Purdue’s professor of enology (the science of wine and winemaking), a former professional winemaker, and the author of the book, you guessed it, “Wine Appreciation.”

The self-paced courses take an “intimidation-free” approach to wine, which is to say the discussions revolve around gradually discovering aromas and flavors people can relate to – that hint of roses, black cherries, coconut or perhaps peaches– without taking away from the artisan, holistic approach many winemakers take when crafting their wines. One of Butzke’s goals is to remove the fear factor when learning and talking about, or ordering and buying wine.

Along the way, learners get a global wine travelogue (Butzke has been to all the places where the wines he discusses are produced) and they get to meet wine producers from around the world, some of them families who’ve been at it for generations. As a wine scientist, Butzke can explain not only how a wine tastes, but why it’s made that way. Wonder why they make Port in Portugal or how the bubbles get in Champagne? As one description put it, the material in Purdue’s courses ranges from Caesar (big wine drinkers those Romans) to sulfites (important in maintaining a wine’s freshness).

For more information about Purdue’s online Wine Appreciation courses and to purchase for yourself go here. To purchase as a gift go here. Purdue faculty and staff can receive a discount on the full course. Email [email protected] for the discount code

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