It has been said that while the national motto of France (Liberté, égalité, fraternité or Liberty, equality, fraternity) is well and good, what truly sets France apart from its neighbors is the country’s passion for wine. From the impact of wars upon French society and history, to the current era of globalization of the wine trade, this course examines the exalted and everyday place of wine in French culture.
We will begin at the end of the 19th century, with the Franco-Prussian War (1870−71) and its consequences, and the development of the French wine industry during and after the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century. We will then explore the social conflicts that occurred in the vineyards of Champagne and the South of France during the years leading to WWI; wine in the trenches of WWI; and the impact of the inter-war years, including the wine trade and economic crisis.
Next, we will turn our attention to WWII, specifically 1940, when France fell to the Nazis and the German army undertook a campaign to pillage the country’s wine bottles and crops, only to be met with fierce resistance from the French wine producers who undertook ingenious, daring measures to save their country’s most treasured commodity.
The final session (February 27) will be held at the Campus Club of the University of Minnesota, where Certified Sommelier Jason Kallsen will give you the opportunity to taste a variety of wines that reflect the regions and personalities described in the course, including Champagne, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. In addition to wine terminology basics, both instructors will speak about the current era of globalization in the wine trade.
Required: Donald and Petie Kladstrup, Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure.
A $10 fee, payable to the instructor at the final class, will cover the cost of wine for those who would like to take part in the tasting. Tasting is optional.
John Kim Munholland is Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota where he taught courses on modern European history for 42 years. A frequent LearningLife instructor, he holds a PhD in history from Princeton University and his research interests include World War II-era Europe and France through the ages. He is a frequent presenter for the Smithsonian Institution’s France Through the Ages tour.
Jason Kallsen has been LearningLife’s lead wine instructor for more than a decade. A passionate wine lover and Certified Sommelier, Kallsen has operated Twin Cities Wine Education since 1998, through which he teaches classes, and consults with and trains retailers and restaurant professionals throughout the country. He is featured regularly in the media, including in an appearance on the international broadcast of “Performance Today,” during which he paired wines with classical music. His mantra: “Wine education without intimidation.”