Become a wine expert (part 9): Terroir
What is terroir (pronounced "ter-war") in wine? Terroir is the complete combination of factors that give each wine its own distinct flavor. Factors that go into the terroir of a wine are soil composition, environment, weather, microclimates, etc.
In France, it has been said that the blood and sweat from ancient battles can even be tasted in the wine. While this may or may not be true, terroir (which comes from the word "terre" meaning "land") speaks to the fact that wines often-times have a "sense of place" and are distinctive of where they are from. Think of terroir as a different dialect or accent - a Southern accent sounds different from a New York accent which sounds different from a West Coast accent. Although the language is the same, these dialects have their own sense of place. Once you are fluent in the language of wine these different dialects start to become a lot more pronounced. These "wine dialects" echo the terroir where the grapes were grown and the wines were made.