WEST LAFAYETTE — Purdue University is offering a new online version of its popular Wine Appreciation course, a study of the history of wine growing, global grape and wine production techniques, and the economic and political impact of the wine industry as part of modern agriculture.

The course, which includes virtual wine tasting sessions, is for anyone with an interest in expanding their wine horizons. Christian Butzke, professor of enology (the science of wine and winemaking), who’s taught the course on Purdue’s flagship campus to more than 6,000 students over the last 15 years, will teach the online version as well.

The course takes a “descriptive sensory analysis” approach to discussing more than 40 regional wine styles. Discussions revolve around smells and tastes people can relate to – that hint of flowers, black cherries, vanilla or perhaps pineapple. One of Butzke’s goals is to take away the intimidation factor in learning and talking about wine.

Participants are encouraged to purchase at least a certain number of the recommended wines to better understand different regions, varieties, styles, and production methods.

The self-paced online course consists of video lectures with interviews, tasting sessions and discussion groups. It is like a wine tour for the shelter-in-place era, taking in wines from notable wine-producing countries – the U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile, among others. Meanwhile, it also makes virtual stops in places that might not come to mind immediately, such as Israel, Greece, Hungary and Peru, which boasts vineyards 500 years old and was, with Mexico, among the first wine-producing countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Along the way, students experience a wine travelogue (Butzke has been to all the places where the wines he discusses are produced) and they get to meet wine producers from around the world, some of them families who’ve been at it for generations. As a wine scientist and former commercial winemaker, the Purdue wine professor can explain not only how a wine tastes, but why it’s made that way and the chemistry and artistry employed in making it.

There is a pathway for college students who take the online course to do so for credit.

For more information about Purdue’s online Wine Appreciation course, visit https://www.eventreg.purdue.edu/info/wine-appreciation.