A2/B1 – How is wine made? (the present passive)

Two of my long-term private students, recently have asked me to change the format of our conversation lessons. Up to this point, I was allowed to practise Dogme style, but now I’m back to good old basics. They always give me the topic of our next meeting, and this time I really enjoyed it – wine production. So when life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. When life gives you grapes, make some wine.

The second I heard about the topic of our next class, I knew that it would be a great opportunity to practise the passive form. If you’ve ever had a business English class, then you know that any class on some sort of production gives the perfect opportunity for this grammar topic. Since the class is based on a simple Insider video titled How wine is made, I think that it can be a good class for A2 and B1 general and business English.

The class consists of a lesson plan, a presentation (for online teaching) and also a worksheet (for face-to-face teaching). You can find them all to download for free at the end of the post!


Start the class by looking at the world map and checking students’ knowledge of top worldwide wine producers. Put them into pairs and ask them to think of the top 10 wine producers. Reveal the answers and check how well students did in that task. Proceed by showing a pie chart with the top 10 countries and the percentage of wine produced according to Wisevoter – wine-producing countries. Once again, students work in pairs and match the countries with the percentage of world wine production. Show the answers and check how well they know their wine producers.

Before watching the video and getting into the main portion of the class, have a short discussion about wine. With a show of hands check how many of your students enjoy wine and their favourite type of it. Ask if they’ve ever visited a winery or been wine-tasting.

In the next pre-listening / pre-watching activity, students think about the steps involved in the pinot noir grape wine production. Put all the steps in order, and watch the video How wine is made to check the answers. Discuss how this process is different for white grape and sparkling wine (white grape wine goes through the press directly, and sparkling wine is fermented in bottles). Present students with 5 questions about the video. Watch it again, if needed, and answer the questions. This sums up the video portion of the class.

Now it’s time to briefly explain the rules of the passive form. Show an active sentence from a video and its passive form equivalent. Explain how in the passive form the object of the active sentence becomes the subject in the passive form.

Now give students some time to change the active sentences from the video into their passive forms. Think and talk about how the passive form makes us sound a bit more formal and removes the need to mention the agent, which may be irrelevant or obvious to the listener. Once again, remind that the passive form is made by putting the verb to be in the correct tense followed by a verb in past participle form. Students read a short paragraph on how white wine is made and complete the sentences by putting the verbs in brackets in the passive form. You can either reveal the answers or watch the video one last time, as all of the phrases were mentioned there.


Since the class is created with the thought of adult students, ask them to think and write down five things they do at work / university / school / home. Ask them to read their sentences in the active form and then tell them to change their sentences into their passive equivalent. Once again, check the answers and correct any errors as needed.

Finish the class with some general discussion about wine. Discuss the meaning of a wine sommelier and its importance in society. Check how many of your students know something about wine and food pairing and if they have ever tried producing their own wines.

Are you a wine sommelier? If so, click the links below to get the files and check how many of wine connoisseurs are in your class. 🍷

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