Wine Cellar Innovations Blog

“Terrior” And The Hand That Feeds It

March 2nd, 2016

shutterstock_1950688editGetting into wine is easy….go buy a bottle and drink it. Find what you like, buy again, rinse and repeat.
However, there is so much more to enjoying, learning and studying wine than only getting your new favorite bottle (or box) time after time.

If you’ve recently taken the leap into learning more about different grapes, regions, and winemaking processes, you’ve undoubtedly heard or seen the word “terrior.” Pronounced *terhe-WAH,* the laymen’s meaning of the word is that the grapes taste like where they are from in the world, country, region, even down to vineyard locations.

That’s a very easy and basic explanation but it’s true: A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is a big grapefruity bomb, while the exact same grape from California or South Africa can show more floral and grassy notes and flavors. Ever had a good Burgundy (Pinot Noir) from France? Put it side by side with a California Pinot and you’ll be surprised at the differences. Even comparing something as close in region as, say, a Russian River Pinot from Sonoma up against one from Santa Barbara down the cost, shows amazing differences that you can actually taste and track from vintner to vintner.

shutterstock_124991384editTalking terrior can also be the main crux in the differences when discussing “Old World” vs. “New World” wines and production methods. You can taste more rustic, earthy understones on a Syrah or GSM blend from the Southern Rhone region in France vs. the more fruit-forward versions produced here in the USA.

Believe it or not, part of the final test to become a sommelier is to blindly taste wines and be able to identify WHERE that wine game from and the exact grape. Being able to identify terrior in this manner takes years of practice and knowledge and goes to show you just how important it is.

Next time you’re buying wine, grab a Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon and grab one from South America or South Africa. You’ll be amazed at the differences…and it’s all based on terrior. Be sure to keep your wine stored carefully and you can continue to enjoy them for years.

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