WHAT DOES THE TERM 'TERROIR' MEAN?
You might have heard someone tasting wine and saying something along the lines of: “this wine exhibits beautiful terroir.” And then you probably thought: what the hell does that mean?!
Terroir (pronounced tay-wahr), to put it simply, refers to the natural environment in which a particular wine is produced. specifically looking at things like the region's soil, climate and terrain (like elevation), and how they impact the taste of the wine produced there.
So how does the 'terroir' affect the taste of the wine? Terroir at its base is the belief that the land and climate where the grapes are grown give that grape unique qualities that could not be found in any other region of the world. Think of it like how Thai coconuts taste different - some would say better - than coconuts grown in other Southeast Asian countries. So saying "this coconut really embodies the terroir of Thailand", is just a fancier way of saying, this coconut really tastes like a coconut grown in Thailand.
But back to the point - what does all this mean for wine?
C L I M A T E : In most wine regions there are two main types of climates: cool climate and warm climate. Grapes grown in warmer climates tend to have higher sugar levels, which means higher alcohol wines. Whereas grapes that are grown in cool climates generally have lower sugar levels and retain more natural acidity.
S O I L : We could go on for days about different soil types found the world's vineyards, but instead of putting you to sleep, we'll just put it simply: dirt has minerals and those minerals ultimately end up in the grapes grown in that dirt. Those minerals can include things like limestone, volcanic rock, red iron clay, seabed, etc., will change the soil and the wine produced from it.
T E R R A I N : Things like elevation and geological features - such as mountains, valleys, or large bodies of water - can all have a significant impact on how a wine tastes. These terrain features lead to things like temperature fluctuation, winds, water drainage, etc., and therefore impact the grapes grown there. For example, grapes grown at a very high altitude tend to be very high quality and age-worthy (aka expensive) wines that cannot be reproduced anywhere else.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the meaning of terroir. To taste test your new-found wine knowledge yourself we recommend trying the All White Wine Box or the 50 Shades of Red Wine Box to try wines from different regions and see if you can taste the 'terroir'. Because you're fancy like that.😉