Terroir is a Euro-centric concept and is not a word usually used daily in American culture. However, people who adore great flavor worldwide are becoming increasingly more aware of a simplistic version of this complex topic.
Not surprisingly, the French coined the term terroir. Translated from French to English as “land,” the word terroir simply refers to the earth’s effect on ingredients born there. And it is widely believed that this component is what dictates the entire makeup of an ingredient.
Describing it (or trying to define it) is like trying to explain nuances of the bible in one paragraph. But here is an attempt: the idea is that a wine or food grown in a particular place, at a specific moment, will taste completely unique to the same thing grown there at any other time.
Factors that enhance the terroir bestowed on an ingredient:
Environment – Climate, soil, temperature and the variant compositions of each including minerality, soil and acidity.
Harvest – Local harvesting techniques make a product 100% one-of-a-kind to the region where it comes from.
Regional Classification – Only Champagne can be produced in the Champagne region of France. Bourbon only comes from Kentucky. Port, only from Portugal. Other regions can create similar styles, but will never be able to call the product such unless it is grown in that region and is given the appropriate classification.
Terroir’s Result – The result that terroir lends upon cooking is dramatic. Flavor, structure and nutritional value communicate the soil, environment, and climate where they are grown and create a distinct flavor profile. The effect of terroir reaches miraculous heights when terroir-driven meals and wines parallel one another through harmonious consumption.
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