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VEN 111 Wines of the World

VEN 111: Wines of the World

Spring 2019

Monday: 2:10 pm to 5 pm

RMI Sensory Building: Silverado Sensory Theater

Instructor: Susan Ebeler (seebeler@ucdavis.edu); 752-7150; 3148 RMI North; 150 Mrak Hall

  • You MUST be at least 18 years old to participate in VEN 111. As proof of age, please bring a Driver’s License or Passport to the first class.
  • California Assembly Bill No. 1989 was approved in 2014. This law allows enrolled students, aged 18-20 years old, to taste (sip) alcoholic beverages for educational purposes and requires that the beverages be expectorated (spit) and not swallowed or consumed.
  • It is expected that ALL students in this class will ‘sip and spit’ and not swallow or consume the wines that we taste during class.
  • Please notify the instructor if you have a food allergy. Reference standards and some wines and aperitifs may contain compounds the can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

This course is a survey of some world wine producing regions and their wines.  We will briefly cover selected world wine regions and wine styles. The course includes sensory evaluation of representative wines.


Upon completion of the lecture portion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Identify various wine regions in the world,
  • Know which varieties (cultivars) and wine styles come from which areas,
  • Compare and contrast varieties, wines and wine styles across areas.

Upon completion of the tasting portion of the course, the student should be able to:

  • Describe flavors of various wine styles and grape varieties from selected areas
  • Create a systematic approach to wine tasting
  • Effectively communicate their impressions of wines in written and oral formats.

Grades based on:

1.         Wine Tasting Notes – Due weekly (20%)

2.         Research paper – Due April 29, 2019 (30%)

3.         Oral presentation – May 6, 13, 20 or June 3, 2019 (30%)

4.         Class participation (20%)


Required Textbook

Karen MacNeil (2015) The Wine Bible, 2nd Edition. Workman Publishing Company, New York, NY ($20-$30)

André Dominé (2008) Wine, Ullmann, Postdam, Germany ($32 to $40)

Additional Optional Textbooks

Jancis Robinson and Julia Harding (2006). The Oxford Companion to Wine

Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson (2007). The World Atlas of Wine

Tom Stevenson (2007). The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia


Additional Course Information

See Canvas.UCDavis.edu

Office Hours: TBA

Tentative Schedule

April 1, 2019                  Introduction/Course overview; Intro to wine tasting evaluation & tasting procedures; France: Jura, Arbois, Savoie

April 8, 2019                   Italy: Local (Autochthonous) grapes only

April 15, 2019                 Spain: Rioja, Navarra, Penedès

April 22, 2019                 German Rieslings

April 29, 2019                 Aperitifs; Research paper due

May 6, 2019                   South of France; 4 minute presentations (5 per session)

May 13, 2019                 Greece: Local (Autochthonous) grapes only; 4 minute presentations (5 per session)

May 20, 2019                 Prosecco and Cava; 4 minute presentations (5 per session)

May 27, 2019                  MEMORIAL DAY

June 3, 2019                   Worldwide Pinot noir; 4 minute presentations (5 per session)

Wine Tasting Notes(20% of grade)

Hand in a photocopy of the hand written notes taken during the blind tasting as well as a typed descriptive critique of two wines evaluated during that week’s class (20%). These are due at noon on the Wednesday after the tasting (no late submissions accepted). Please upload these documents into your folder on the Canvas site.

Critique should be similar to this example from Jamie Goode’s WineAnorak blog:

Casa Silva ‘Cool Coast’ Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Colchagua, Chile

Aromatic, fresh, pure, linear nose showing grapefruit and mineral characters. Almost alarmingly pure and transparent, with a hint of saline. The palate is intense and precise, with high acidity and dense grapefruit and lemon character, as well as some brine notes and piercing minerality. It’s incredibly fresh yet shows no rough edges, avoiding austerity yet not tending towards fatness or blowsiness at all. I love it[1].

[1]I want you to use this scale to rate the wine: I hate it, I dislike it, Blah, I like it, and I love it.

Research Paper (30% of the grade)

A 5 to 6-page term paper on your favorite wine or a wine that you have tried or aspire to try one day – due by 4 p.m. on Monday, May 1, 2017. The paper must have 1” margins, Times Roman 12-point font, 1.5 spacing withcitations and a list of references. Web site addresses should be cited as footnotes. Journal articles and books must be cited in a separate literature cited section.

Oral Presentation(30% of the grade)

Each student will give a 4-minute oral presentation on their research paper wine. The date of presentation will be assigned by the instructor by April 10, 2017. A PowerPoint slide set of 3-5 slides must be created and submitted to the instructor by the MONDAY A WEEK BEFORE the scheduled presentation (upload on the Canvas site).

Class Participation (20% of the grade)

This includes discussion during lectures and wine tastings as well as attendance and attitude towards your peers, the topics and the wine tastings.

Please do not wear noticeable aromas such as perfume, after-shave or body oils, or creams.

To keep alcohol intake to a minimum, spitting after tasting each wine is required.   

Code of Academic Conduct

Please read and review the Code of Academic Conduct:


As noted in the above document, misconduct includes cheating on exams and coursework, plagiarizing the work of others, unauthorized collaboration, misuse of course materials, lying or fraud, submitting the same work in two or more courses without the permission of the instructors, and intimidation or disruption in class. There is zero tolerance for academic misconduct. Cases of academic misconduct will be reported to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA) for adjudication (http://sja.ucdavis.edu/about-sja.html).