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Homework Time

Just thought I would share with you the topic for a mini-paper I am currently working on for a class called “Cross Cultural Management” in my Masters in Wine Biz Program. A little something for everyone to think about =)

Question:
France and the United States have two fundamentally different approaches to marketing wine. Are these differences purely historical or do they reflect deeper underlying cultural differences? If so, can these two approaches be better understood/explained from a cultural perspective?

Among other questions you should answer, does wine play the same role in each culture, not just in terms of use, but from a cultural perspective in terms of the behavior and values it embodies?

Also, how does each approach reveal the cultural biases of the culture that engendered it?

Do not just compare each approach from a purely marketing point of view. Filter your analysis through the cultural dimensions we explored together in class (Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions). And of course, illustrate and support your analysis based on something a little more “solid” than your personal opinion.

Any thoughts from the Vinous Readers?
This assignment is due March 27th, I will post my answer once I finish it.

Vinously Speaking & Vinously Yours,
The Ceci Sipper

  2 comments for “Homework Time

  1. Candid Wines
    March 16, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    A number of related thoughts jump out in reading this as an American who lived, cooked, and drank in France for six years and who now sells wine in the US. First, I would point you to a book called "Riding The Waves of Culture". The author's approach is one of the more useful ones that I found when I was working with French multinationals.

    Second, I would encourage you to explore the oft discussed idea of "ma compagne". More or less everyone I knew in Paris spoke of their family's spot in the country, whether they had any tie to it at present or not. The sense of being connected to a place, and by extension being connected to what is grown and eaten in that place is far more prevelant there than it is here. Someone of Alsatian roots will have a few producers of which they are most fond and is likely to seek out Choucroute and Riesling, even if they are taking comfort in the most abyssmal verions of both.

    In the US, if your family is from Mendocino, you only have a generation of connection to wine, so chances are wine specifically from that place simply is not part of your heritage. Some of that might change in a generation, but today it is not the case. We have so few regions with extended history (beyond the last two generations) that people simply do not define themselves by their regional wine.

    What's more, our wine culture is fundamentally driven by choice. We American wine drinkers exist, and seemingly always have exisited, as a nation that can choose between most anything the world has to offer. We were importing wine almost from the begninning – even though Jefferson planted vines at Monticello his intials are the bedrock of the most famous case of importing fraud to date. On the other hand, if I am from the Medoc, my family is unlikely to drink much of anything from Burgundy, much less from Germany or somewhere else. Much of this will translate to my cellar in Paris and what I open for friends when they come over as each bottle of Haut Medoc I open gives me a chance to share stories of the region, the family, and my connection to the land.

    This is a great question that I think goes to the heart of quite a few identity issues in France and the US. In this country, a man like Wendell Berry is celebrated for celebrating place. I applaud this, but the fact that his voice is one that is heard speaks not only to eloquence, but also to our interest in hearing what he has to say. I felt like I heard the call for food and wine with a sense of place as part of my everyday life in France, whereas here it is something of a new trend.

  2. Veronique - The American formerly known as Ceci
    March 16, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    WOW Candid Wines!! Thank you so very much for this comment! I truly appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and experience with me and the other Vinous Readers. I would love to use you and what you said as a source in my paper. My boyfriend, who is french, listened while I read this aloud to him and he said he 100% agrees with all that you said. I have been living here in France for a little under 2 years so I too can understand what you mean. It is really great of you to share this with me and it is something I could have overlooked as a point of mention in my paper and now it has a part. Thank you again!

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