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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Talk Dirt to Me

It doesn’t matter what country we’re in, on all of our wine and food tours a fundamental concept is the French term terroir.  Derived from a Latin root meaning “earth,” terroir speaks to the relationship between a wine and that specific location in which the grapes were grown.  While there is no literal translation, terroir denotes the sum of the effects that the local setting has on the making of a wine.  Examples include the soil composition, sun, soil drainage, topography, humidity, and even the native environmental pests.     

Terroir is also critical with food products.  Cheese, olive oil, coffee and tea, for example, are also profoundly influenced by the terroirs in which they are grown. The village of Roquefort, France recognized centuries ago that they had a unique environment for producing blue cheese.  The soil that births grasses eaten by Roquefort area cows are one part of the area’s terroir;  local bacteria in the caves where the cheeses are aged are another factor responsible for creating a cheese like no other in the world, including no other blue cheese in France.  

Looking for a novel party idea?  How about a “Talk Dirt to Me” theme, where you offer wine made from the same grape grown in different regions of the same country (e.g. wines from California’s Central Coast and Napa Valley).  Combine this with a tasting of foods items made from the same product but from diverse localities (such as Parmiggiano Reggiano and Grano Padano, both made from cow’s milk in a similar fashion, but from very different terroirs).

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