HS/CU 245 - The Italian Wine Industry and its Evolution in Tuscany

Italy is a country with an age-old tradition of wine-drinking that can be traced back millennia. In Renaissance society, for example, the act of drinking wine was a marker for higher social class and inspired artists, thinkers, writers and poets, and was also used for medical and healthcare applications.

At the time of Italian unification in 1861, wine consumption was widespread throughout the country across all social ranks. However, there was no market in the modern sense, nor any internationally-known regional appellations as there are today.

Bettino Ricasoli, a baron from Florence, was the first person to build a highly successful brand that would become known as “Chianti”. After his influence, an Italian wine industry arose in the wake of specific regional brand names and distinctive tastes that characterize today’s wine market in Italy and around the world.

This course aims to cover the economic and cultural underpinnings of today’s Italian wine industry with a particular focus on the case of Tuscany. The course will explore specific features of Italian winemaking (characterized by small-scale and geographically very diverse businesses) and will analyze the change in consumer preferences over time, where values linked to Italy’s identity prevail, especially the value of wine as integral part of the country’s material culture (3 credits, 45 contact hours).

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Cultural Studies

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