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Wine 101: From the Ground Up

When wine pros talk about terroir (which they do, endlessly), they mean all the qualities of a place that influence the taste of its wines—from the climate to the soil's minerals. Indeed, the subsoil below the top layer of earth has a huge influence on a wine's flavor.

Wine Region: Mosel, Germany

Soil Type: Slate

Impact: Rieslings have a distinctive flinty edge.

Bottle to Try: 2008 Selbach-Oster Kabinett ($19)

slideshow  Off-Dry Riesling Pairings

Wine Region: Chablis, France

Soil Type: Limestone

Impact: These whites smell like oyster shells.

Bottle to Try: 2008 Gilbert Picq & ses Fils ($22)

Plus: 5 Terrific Chablis

Video: Ray Isle on How to Smell Wine

Wine Region: Right Bank Bordeaux, France

Soil Type: Clay

Impact: Reds, mainly Merlot, are soft and plush.

Bottle to Try: 2006 Clos de l'Oratoire Saint-Émilion ($40)

slideshow  Old World Wine Pairings

Wine Region: Left Bank Bordeaux, France

Soil Type: Gravel

Impact: Reds are firm; Cabernet reigns.

Bottle to Try: 2006 Les Fiefs de Lagrange Saint-Julien ($30)

slideshow  Cabernet Sauvignon Pairings

Wine Region: Santorini, Greece

Soil Type: Volcanic

Impact: The whites taste especially minerally.

Bottle to Try: 2008 Boutari Santorini ($20)

Plus: 7 Greek Varietals to Know

More Wine Tips:

Published June 2010
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