In the wine world, one often encounters the French term terroir. The word stems from terre, meaning “land” or more broadly, “territory.”  The application in wine language?  A capacious description of the wine encompassing anything we want it to — the rolling hills of the vineyard, the aspect of the slopes, the old wooden buckets into which each bunch of grapes is dropped upon picking — anything that contributed to the end result.  Romantic, yes?  Every wine is unique, this is true.  A vast combination of forces ranging from insects, winds, century old trees providing shade to a certain vine, decisions of the winemaker… everything.  It is kind of a mystical “personality” that a wine has that cannot be recreated anywhere else.

It seems that people of the wine world either love or hate the use of this term.  Some think that the inclusion of the word terroir on the back label of bottle is pretty flimflam-y and ludicrous; a cheesy ploy to sell.  Others find the concept to be legitimate.  My thoughts: consumer beware.  I don’t think the idea of terroir is a bad one, but that the term can be used to over-romanticize a wine and make a buck.

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