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Research and Wine: A Perfect Pairing

Demonstrate your subject matter expertise to stand out

Students in my sections of The Compelling Communicator and The Authentic Leader are often looking for strategies to differentiate themselves in a competitive job market. One way to stand out: demonstrate their subject matter expertise. And one way to take it further? Unite something you’re passionate about with your work. In my case, that’s the economics of wine. 

Did you know that the global market size of the wine industry is more than $340 billion? In addition to being a senior lecturer and the associate director of curriculum for Columbia’s M.S. in Strategic Communication program, I conduct research on how green product marketing drives outcomes in international wine markets. But my research is one component of how I establish myself as an expert on wine economics. I also widely distribute my findings and insights by writing book reviews on the subject. Some examples of my recent critiques published in the Journal of Wine Economics are below. 

*Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally (CICO Books, 2020) by Isabelle Legeron. Legeron makes the case that natural wines are made with conviction—and promotes a philosophy that can, and should, affect the entire wine industry. She interlaces her well-researched perspective with vivid illustrations and rational evidence. While the agriculture behind creating organic and biodynamic wines may look untamed, she points out, natural wines require careful attention and precision from those producing them. This native, wild approach to viticulture is exactly how Legeron believes winemaking should work. Legeron has compiled a necessary companion for any person with an interest in agriculture and wine production.

*From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine (Storey Publishing, 2015) by Jeff Cox. As the author of more than twenty books on food, wine, gardening, and landscaping, Cox has built a lasting reputation. From the early stages of selecting the vines and growing grapes, all the way to fermenting and bottling the wine, Cox walks the reader through the entire process of winemaking to offer necessary information and his interpretation of how anyone can journey from grape to glass. Backed with scientific evidence, Cox’s main point highlights “the unique affinity between grapevines and humankind.”Cox believes that much satisfaction can be derived during the process of home winemaking and time spent experiencing a symbiotic relationship with nature—no matter the quality of the end product. 

*Wine Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country (Lonely Planet, 2015). Filled with photographs and colorful maps of “52 of the world’s greatest wine regions, with weekend-long itineraries in each,” Wine Trails is teeming with information on how to “meet winemakers…and experience some of the world’s most beautiful places through the amazing wines made there.” Highlighting more than 300 wineries, it reads more like a souvenir than a guidebook; this should prove to be enough adventure for even the most ambitious traveling oenophile. 

While only a small part of my research, writing reviews like this promotes my expertise in the field of wine economics—and provides an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing conversations happening in the discipline. Students can certainly follow the same path, which can enhance their reputation in their chosen field. And, of course, attract prospective employers, business partners, and clients. 


JEFF COX:  From Vines to Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine. Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA, 2015, 253 pp., ISBN 978-612124384, $18.95

ISABELLE LEGERON:  Natural Wine: An Introduction to Organic and Biodynamic Wines Made Naturally.  New York, 2020, 224 pp., ISBN 978-1782498995, $16.39

LONELY PLANET: Wine Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in Wine Country. Lonely Planet Global Limited, Malaysia, 2015, 320 pp., ISBN: 978-1743607503, $24.99