The Business of Wine


    General Information

    Professor Information

    Professor Photo
    Terry Lease
    By Appointment (but please use Canvas for class-related messages)

    Course Description And Purpose

    Overview of the wine business including: importers, wholesalers, growing grapes, making wine, retailing in supermarkets, restaurants, and liquor stores, analytical tastings, matching wine and food.

    Course Objectives

    • To learn in general how the wine business works
    • To develop your palate through analytical tasting
    • To learn how wines are made
    • To be exposed to the different areas of the wine business
    • To learn from top experts in the wine field

    Important Information

    Course Prerequisites

    There are no prerequisites for this course.

    * Tasting is optional (for students of legal drinking age)


    No textbook is required, but you will need access to a variety of instructional materials.  Please see the “Instructional Materials” module in Canvas for more details and suggestions.


    Please review the FIU's Policies webpage. The policies webpage contains essential information regarding guidelines relevant to all courses at FIU, as well as additional information about acceptable netiquette for online courses.

    As a member of the FIU community you are expected to be knowledgeable about the behavioral expectations set forth in the FIU Student Code of Conduct.

    Technical Requirements and Skills

    One of the greatest barriers to taking an online course is a lack of basic computer literacy. By computer literacy we mean being able to manage and organize computer files efficiently, and learning to use your computer's operating system and software quickly and easily. Keep in mind that this is not a computer literacy course; but students enrolled in online courses are expected to have moderate proficiency using a computer. Please go to the "What's Required" webpage to find out more information on this subject.

    Please visit our Technical Requirements webpage for additional information.

    Accessibility and Accommodation

    The Disability Resource Center collaborates with students, faculty, staff, and community members to create diverse learning environments that are usable, equitable, inclusive and sustainable. The DRC provides FIU students with disabilities the necessary support to successfully complete their education and participate in activities available to all students. If you have a diagnosed disability and plan to utilize academic accommodations, please contact the Center at 305-348-3532 or visit them at the Graham Center GC 190.

    Please visit our ADA Compliance webpage for information about accessibility involving the tools used in this course.

    Please visit the Canvas Accessibility webpage for more information:

    For additional assistance please contact FIU's Disability Resource Center.

    Academic Misconduct Statement

    Florida International University is a community dedicated to generating and imparting knowledge through excellent teaching and research, the rigorous and respectful exchange of ideas and community service. All students should respect the right of others to have an equitable opportunity to learn and honestly to demonstrate the quality of their learning. Therefore, all students are expected to adhere to a standard of academic conduct, which demonstrates respect for themselves, their fellow students, and the educational mission of the University. All students are deemed by the University to understand that if they are found responsible for academic misconduct, they will be subject to the Academic Misconduct procedures and sanctions, as outlined in the Student Handbook.

    Academic Misconduct includes: Cheating – The unauthorized use of books, notes, aids, electronic sources; or assistance from another person with respect to examinations, course assignments, field service reports, class recitations; or the unauthorized possession of examination papers or course materials, whether originally authorized or not. Plagiarism – The use and appropriation of another’s work without any indication of the source and the representation of such work as the student’s own. Any student who fails to give credit for ideas, expressions or materials taken from another source, including internet sources, is responsible for plagiarism.

    Learn more about the academic integrity policies and procedures as well as student resources that can help you prepare for a successful semester.

    Expectations of this Course

    This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

    Course Detail

    Course Communication

    Communication in this course will take place within Canvas. See the Canvas Guide on communicating with course users for more information.

    Discussion Forums

    Wine Regions for Discussion Boards

    France and the UK
    Spain and Portugal
    Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and eastern Europe
    South America
    Italy, Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean
    North America
    Australia and New Zealand
    Asia (including India)

    Choose a Discussion Board for Reporting (Week 1)

    I have divided the vast, overwhelming majority of the wine-producing world into eight groups, each with its own discussion board in Canvas. Each student must select one group as his or her Reporting Group. Selections are on a first-come, first-served basis, and no more than four students may select any one of the Reporting Groups.

    Report Each Week (beginning Week 2)

    Each week by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time) on Wednesday post one new (i.e. not previously posted) item. For Weeks 2 through 4, I expect you to research your region and post something about what you find interesting about your region.  These posts could cover the varieties of wine produced in the region, special methods of production, the history of winemaking in the region, how the region fits into the world of wine (total production, total or per-capita consumption, its top export markets, domestic v. exported consumption of its wines, etc.), or other areas of general information.

    Beginning in Week 5, you should begin to look for more timely information, such as a news story or blog post related to a current issue in the wine industry for your area, with a focus on the business side of the industry. (Production is an important part of the business side, but focus on the market impact of the story more than any scientific or technical achievement.) Post a link to the article (if a subscription is required, you will need to upload a PDF file of the article instead), a brief summary of the article, and a less brief “thought piece” on why you thought the article was interesting or important, what insights you have on the issue, what questions it raises in your mind, etc.  During Weeks 2 through 4, I will post some items of this nature in different regions so that you may better understand what I expect.

    Respond Each Week (beginning Week 3)

    Each week by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern time) on Sunday post a response to one of the posts in each of two different areas, neither of which may be your reporting area. You may respond to a post from the current week or the previous week so long as you have not previously responded to that post. Your response should contribute additional information (and an explanation of the importance of it), additional insight, or probing questions. 

    I will respond to a number of the posts from Week 2 in order (1) to guide you in my expectations about Report posts and (2) to allow you to see the nature of the Response posts I expect from you.  I expect you, both individually and collectively, to spread your responses around the different regions.  I reserve the right to impose restrictions to accomplish that goal if I deem it necessary.


    Each of those three components (one original post, two responses) is worth up to five points. Quantity does not substitute for quality, but you may solidify the points you earn by responding to responses to any of your postings. In particular, the discussion boards are supposed to be an online analogy for a class discussion, and I will award extra points for threads that take on the nature of a real discussion.  You may accumulate up to 150 points toward your base grade. One third of any excess points accumulated will count as extra credit. You may miss a posting for your reporting area one week without penalty (beyond a grade of zero for that week); however, each additional week in which you fail to post for your reporting area will result in a deduction of five points from your grade. Any extra credit you earn notwithstanding, the discussion boards account for 15% of your grade.


    Biweekly Test: In the week following each odd-numbered module you will have a test.  I will not provide any makeup tests and will accept late submissions only under extenuating circumstances and solely at my discretion.  Each test is worth up to sixty (60) points, and in total the tests account for 48% of your grade.

    The purpose of the tests is to see if you have developed a good set of information resources, know how to use it appropriately and have spent some time exploring each area of the course, and can make logical inferences from the information or connections between different pieces of information. Each week’s module notes should guide you in your exploration of the material to be tested.  If you wait until the test to begin that exploration, however, you are likely to experience extreme time pressure during the test.

    In order to mitigate any issues with your computer and online assessments, it is very important that you take the "Practice Quiz" from each computer you will be using to take your graded quizzes and exams. It is your responsibility to make sure your computer meets the minimum hardware requirements. If you need further assistance please contact FIU Online Support Services.


    Analytical Tasting Assignments: Wine tasting is not required for this course, but understanding how to apply an analytical, systematic approach to wine tasting is essential to understanding the business of wine. For each week with a Tasting Element (see Course Calendar, below), you will have a related assignment.  Each assignment is worth 10 points, and in total these assignments account for 12% of you grade.

    Semester project: The semester project is worth up to 250 points, or 25% of your grade.  Details are still being worked out, but the project will involve teams competing against each other and against teams from other universities in a business simulation game using a winery as the setting.  Please note that this is the most heavily weighted single assignment in your grade; please treat it accordingly.  More details will be posted in Canvas soon.

    Online Resources

    Although I suggest that you have at least one reference book (see the “Instructional Materials” module in Canvas), you will also need to identify a set of online resources to supplement the book(s).  The “Instructional Materials” module in Canvas has a list of websites that you may decide you want to use to begin building your set of resources.



    Course Requirements Number of Items Points for Each Total Points Available Weight
    Biweekly Tests 8 60 480 48%
    Analytical Tasting Assignments 12 10 120 12%
    Discussion Boards (One third of any accumulated points over 150 will be counted as extra credit)     150 15%
    Semester Project 1 250 250 25%
    Total   N/A 1,000 100%
    Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%) Letter Range (%)
    A 93 or above B 84 - 86 C 71 - 76
    A- 91 - 92 B- 81 - 83 D 61 - 70
    B+ 87 - 90 C+ 77 - 80 F < 61

    Course Calendar

    Weekly Schedule

    Module Dates Production/Business Region Grape Variety Tasting Element
    1 August 20 – 26 Overview The world Chardonnay Analytical tasting
    2 August 27 - September 2 The grape-Vitis vinifera Burgundy Pinot Noir Acidity
    3 September 3 - 9 Vineyard operations Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc Sweetness
    4 September 10 - 16 Fermentation France, other Cabernets (Sauvignon & Franc) Alcohol
    5 September 17 - 23 Maturation Italy Pinot Grigio Tannin
    6 September 24 -30 Packaging/Closures Iberian Peninsula Tempranillo Body and mouthfeel
    7 October 1 - 7 Marketing Germany Riesling Primary aromas and flavors
    8 October 8 - 14 Accounting/Finance Europe, other Nebbiolo Secondary aromas and flavors
    9 October 14 - 21 Old World label laws North America, west Viognier Tertiary aromas and flavors
    10 October 22 - 28 New World label laws N. America, other Sangiovese Minerality
    11 October 29 - November 4 U.S. Wine distribution South America Torrentés Balance, Length, Integration, and Complexity
    12 November 5 - 11 On premise sales Australia Syrah/Shiraz Blind tasting
    13 November 12 -18 Wine Clubs New Zealand Chenin Blanc Faults
    14 November 19 -25 Fraud & Scandal S. Africa Garnacha / Grenache  
    15 November 26 - December 2 Wine professional certification programs Asia and others Merlot  
    16 December 3 - 8 ***** Final Assessment *****