What does “terroir” mean?

Terroir (pronounced ter-wah) is a term used when describing agricultural products, especially drinks such as wine and coffee, in relation to where their inputs originated. For wine, terroir describes the climate, geography and even the geology of the place where grapes were grown. Easy Food and Wine offers a nice backgrounding on terroir and its relationship with wine.

Wine experts often differentiate wines with a specific terroir when grown in different vineyards in the same area. Bottlenotes asked several wine experts to share their views on terroir in their Daily Sip, an online wine newsletter. Here are three very different definitions:

  • “Terroir is a cause and effect relationship between soil components and wine flavors for which no other explanation seems possible.” -Terry Theise, Wine Importer
  • “#Terroir is a meme.” -Katherine Cole, Author of Voodoo Vintners
  • “Terroir is the idea of a holistic place and its translation into the medium of wine.” –James Tidwell, Master Sommelier and Beverage Manager, Four Seasons Resort and Club, Dallas, Texas.
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