This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Terroir and was suggested by Leah Yablong of West Palm Beach, FL. Thanks for the suggestion, Leah!
“Terroir” is a French term which, loosely translated, means “a sense of place.” It is used to refer to products such as cheese, meat, coffee and wine that reflect or represent qualities unique to a specific geographic location. With respect to wine, terroir refers to the intersection of grape variety, soil type, climate and winemaking technique which come together to create a wine that, theoretically, cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. The art of blind tasting is based on the concept that wines look, taste and smell a certain way depending on where they are produced. So, if a wine is said to express terroir, the wine is believed to represent where it comes from and is considered a “wine of place.”
It is important to note the concept of terroir has special significance in Old World wine regions (i.e. France, Italy, Germany) where wine has been produced since approximately the fourth century. Winemakers in these storied regions have been tasked with upholding and preserving the vinous traditions of their ancestors by relying on their wisdom, keen observations and tried and true techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation. New World wine regions (i.e. the United States, South America, Australia), on the other hand, have only been making wine since approximately the sixteenth century, often using vine cuttings and winemaking techniques from the Old World. By simple virtue of time, New World wine regions don’t yet have the experience with their geography that Old World regions do. Today, the evolution of terroir in the New World continues to be an exciting and dynamic process.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Leah, and I hope that helps! If you (yes, YOU) would like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment, please leave it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember – you have to play to win so make your suggestion now!