Terroir is a term you may have heard used by someone tasting wine. The scenario could have occurred as follows: The person takes a sip of wine and then exclaims, “this wine exhibits beautiful terroir.” You then probably thought to yourself, what the hell do they mean by that?!
Terroir is a French term that simply means “a sense of place.” When someone says a wine exhibits terroir, all they mean is that the wine they are drinking tastes the way a wine grown and made in the region where it was grown and made should taste. So if a California wine from the Napa Valley tastes the way a California wine made in the Napa Valley should taste, the wine has great terroir. Pretty simple.
Terroir at its most basic is a belief that the land and climate where the grapes are grown impart unique characteristics into the grape that could not be imparted by any other region of the world. Much like a tomato grown in Florida does not taste the same as a tomato grown in New Jersey, the same is true for grapes. Saying this tomato really embodies the terroir of New Jersey, when biting into a fresh summer tomato, is just a fancier way of saying, this tomato really tastes like a tomato grown in New Jersey.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is terroir.