Paper 1

Paper 1: Wine travel through a liberal arts lens

In this first assignment, you will write an analysis-driven mini travel guide to a specific wine region of your choice, through the critical lens of your liberal arts education. You must guide readers through your own view of various ideas of wine in the region. In other words, your guide must have an angle. You must explore it with analysis and evidence, and guide readers who wish to go see (even taste!) for themselves. A visitor following your guide will witness some of the evidence you present for your view first hand. You should suggest specific places (in particular, wineries!) to visit, and explain in depth why they illustrate your take on your broader analytical question.

Expected length: The guide should be about 2000 words excluding bibliography.

Start by picking a wine region of interest, and learn all you can about it (from major grape varieties, terroir and history, to regulation, politics, business, etc). You will start seeing some specific topics or controversies emerge. What angle do you find most interesting to frame your travel guide?

List of wine regions to choose from

(Note that for the countries for which there is just one link to the country as a whole, it is feasible to treat the country as a wine region (though it’s not required, and you can refine if you find out more of course). But for many well established countries, especially France and the US, it’s impossible not to pick a specific region.)

To get an idea of the kind of controversial issues wine people debate, here is a series of many articles by Jamie Goode on wine controversies: is not exhaustive, but has good examples. However, it is your knowledge of your region that will determine a key angle of analysis to focus on.

Structure of the paper (have clear sections with headings):

  • A good introduction, where you state the key conclusions from your analysis clearly. We need to know where this is going.
  • The next part (broken into any sub-sections you want), a little over half of the remaining length or so, will analyze the issue you chose. Whatever your topic, your analysis needs to be informed by your understanding of the local winemaking and viticulture practices, history, economics, business, politics and culture.
  • Next, you will have a section that takes us to specific wineries or other related sites (wine museums, wine schools, could be a number of things, depending on your analysis, etc.) IN ORDER TO ILLUSTRATE SPECIFIC POINTS OF YOUR ANALYSIS. By reading your suggested tour, a prospective wine tourist should find evidence for your key points from the first part of the paper.
  • End with a short conclusion
  • Include a properly formatted bibliographty

Note: Although good travel guides provide “how to get there” information, there is no need to waste space with this given our purposes. Focus on the substance. If I ever get to follow the itinerary you propose in the second part of the paper, I will do the logistical research myself ;-).

Submission: Paper due in word format, submitted on Moodle by 23:59pm on the due date. Late penalties apply, as indicated on the syllabus.

Grading criteria:

  • Presentation of analysis: This is not a purely descriptive travel guide, as it must be built around an angle of your own. Your guide must have a central analytical theme with clear conclusions from the analysis.
  • Presentation of evidence: The concrete examples, including the sites you suggest we visit as evidence of your analysis, must be informative and illustrate your points. They must be used for your analysis, and not just mere description.
  • Writing: Your writing should be clear, analytical, and invite the reader to follow your steps in their travels.
  • Quality and breadth of sourcesUse a minimum of 20 sources for this paper. You will cite your sources in-text using a standard format with an “Author (date)” system, followed by a complete formatted bibliography (think of it as suggestions for further reading, which many wine enthusiasts reading your guide would be interested in).

Why so many sources? Because as you will see, writing an interesting paper about wine for this class will require to combine scholarly sources with quite a lot of shorter, non-scholarly material. To make sure you read enough to know what you’re talking about, you must read a lot of different things, especially if many are pieces shorter than journal articles or books. 

Academic or not, pay close attention to the quality and relevance of your sources. You need to have enough substantial academic (i.e. books and full length academic articles) as well as short or long pieces you will find on good popular wine magazines, blogs. There is a huge supply of popular writing on wine all over the internet, make sure you assess your sources appropriately.

Note that you will have no trouble finding enough substantial academic sources. First, you will be surprised to see the vast amount of academic research (both in journal and book form) available on all sorts of wine topics, and in many academic fields. Second, it is a very good idea to use sources not necessarily about wine, but about various issues on politics and economics in the places you are talking about.