Wine Enthusiast Podcast: Terroir-Driven Food

WE Editors Layla Schlack and Nils Bernstein get to the bottom of how some of the world’s best foods are impacted by the place in which they’re made.
Illustration by Monica Simon

We know that origin impacts the taste and quality of wine, but what about food? Wine Enthusiast Editors Layla Schlack and Nils Bernstein get to the bottom of how some of the world’s best foods are impacted by the place in which they’re made.


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Read the full transcript of “Terroir-Driven Food”:

Nils Bernstein: In this episode we’re exploring the concept of terroir as it relates to food, and how, much like wine, where and how our food is produced has a major impact on its taste and quality. I’m Nils Bernstein, food editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Layla Schlack: Layla Schlack, senior associate editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

NB: I guess the most important thing to really clarify is what is terroir? What do we mean when we talk about terroir in wine as well as in food?

LS: Terroir is just this idea that the climate and the soil, and the wind and the sun, and all of these elements where, in the case of wine grapes, are grown, in the case of food, whatever food we’re talking about is grown, all affect the flavor of it. In wine this is a given. This is something we’ve known and talked about for a long time. In food, we’re really just starting to get into things like single origin chocolate and coffee labels telling you exactly where the coffee is from and how it’s grown. Terroir in food is an emerging subject that we’re paying a lot of attention to.

NB: Right, and I think it’s an important point to make that when people talk about terroir, the word means soil.

LS: Yes.

NB: But we’re not just talking about dirt. We’re talking about all of the environmental factors, the climate, the water, like you said, and it’s also to some degree a cultural thing, the traditions that have …

LS: Absolutely. How the food … I mean, in coffee, again, we see this a lot. You see shade grown coffee, so what does that mean? Well, that’s coffee where the trees are scattered among other trees so there’s shade, and that impacts the flavor as well.

NB: Right. I feel like terroir is something that’s really been … It’s really part of the psyche in places like France, Italy, Spain. When they talk about terroir, they’re really talking about authenticity and regionality. It’s not really something that, as you mentioned, where it’s emerging in the US for us to talk about both wine and food in those terms. What are some examples of some foods that are becoming more and more identified in terms of Terroir?

LS: Right. Well again, chocolate and coffee are the big ones, and those are the ones we’ve been kind of seeing for awhile. It’s a little bit of a false equivalency because both of those are products that go through so much processing after they’re picked from their … You know, they’re roasted and chocolate is separated and there’s a lot that happens to them after they’re picked, so you’re not always just tasting the terroir.

NB: Right.

LS: You’re tasting all those other processes that happen, but it is kind of a good intro to learning about how different things grow in different places, and also some of that comes down to different cultivars and varieties that grow better some places than others. That’s also not terroir. It’s agricultural differences.

NB: Right, but it does relate to terroir in the sense that it’s the quality of that particular micro-region that is amenable to those specific cultivars of cacao or [crosstalk 00:03:39].

LS: Right, so you are still getting a sense of place from the flavor.

NB: Right, right. Talking about coffee and chocolate as an example, I think about when I was … Really started to travel around the world in the ’80s, ’90s, and we’d go to Europe and other places and the chocolate was something I really noticed as a huge chocolate fan. You’d go to certain countries and the chocolate was … It really varied from place to place. It wasn’t as sweet as in the US and it really had … There was such an incredible variety. That’s something that I think took years for us to really start seeing in the US.

LS: Right, yeah. I mean, for a long time chocolate in the US was a kind of uniform bar. It was Hershey’s, which is fine, but it’s interesting to see people become educated about, “Oh no. I like the Peruvian chocolate better,” or “I like my chocolate from Ecuador.” These are real conversations that people in the food world will have now because you can taste these chocolates from these different places, and side by side, just like you would with wine or olive oil or any of these other things, and really talk about the nuance and the difference between origins.

NB: To see them labeled like that is so funny to me because you imagine if Hershey’s, when we were kids, was labeled with its place of origin of the chocolate and the Tahitian vanilla, whatever, it would have been completely ridiculous, whereas now it’s something that people have really come to expect.

LS: Yes.

NB: Coffee kind of went through the same process. I feel like when I was younger, coffee was from Colombia.

LS: Yes.

Advertisement: Throughout Colombia, South America, for centuries the people have gone to the marketplace. It is here that they trade. It is here that they buy their coffee.

LS: It was Juan Valdez, right?

NB: Yeah, and it’s almost like we’ve gone through this process of narrowing down, narrowing down so it’s not even about what country it’s from. It’s from what part of what country, and which farm and at what altitude, and it’s just, I think it’s really fascinating to see how that’s progressed.

LS: Absolutely, and it’s exciting. I love Ethiopian coffee, and it has such a distinct flavor to me, so it’s just great being able to get that. It’s nice that there’s a market for it, that people know the difference and care, and seek out these different varieties or locations.

NB: Yeah. I live in the West Village in New York and there’s a place near me called Puerto Rico and they have coffees from all over the world.

LS: Right.

NB: There’s about, at any given time, about 100, and even within the … It has the country, the part of the country, how it’s roasted, what style it is, and you can just go around and taste beans out of the big burlap bags, and you see tourists go through there, and locals, and their minds are blown. You can see them even taking notes on their phone about what their preferences are and everybody that you go in there with has a different preference. Another, I think, when we first started talking about terroir in food, first thing that came to my mind was cheese. I mean, I’m a huge cheese freak, but that … You can talk about styles of cheese, but especially when you travel you really, really notice the differences, even from village to village of cheeses.

LS: Yeah. That was a real revelation for me, I mean, when I was a kid and I was in Holland, and I had an aged Gouda, and it was the best thing I’d ever tasted. It was this revelation that cheese tastes very different in different places and from different places. As I’ve learned more about it, it’s again, something that’s not just about the soil, where the milk comes from, but also how the cheese is aged. You’ll see increasingly not only, “This cheese is from this village in Vermont,” you’ll see, “and it was cave aged in this type of cave.” There’s a lot to play with there.

NB: Yeah, there really is. The greatest mozzarella in the world is the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, and they say it’s not just that it’s the water buffalo milk, and it’s not even just that the water buffalo are entirely grass fed. It’s the type of grass and they try to make grass fed water buffalo milk mozzarella elsewhere in the world and it just …

LS: It just isn’t the same.

NB: Yeah, it’s just not the same and it’s frankly not as good. It’s so hard to kind of put a qualitative thing on something like that, but it’s so distinctive, and it’s the kind of thing that you really need to taste it to kind of get it, but it’s … That to me is such a good example of terroir in food. It’s not dirt, but you’re really tasting the grass that they’re eating.

Layla Schlack: The grass, yeah.

NB: Even through the whole cheese making process, you still get that taste and that quality.

LS: Yeah. For me a really good example of terroir in cheese is blue cheeses from around the world. A lot of them are using that same Roquefort strain to culture the cheese, but everything else is different and so you come out with these dramatically different blue cheeses between Roquefort and Stilton and American blues, and they’re delicious, all of them.

NB: Yeah. I just had one called Chiriboga Blue, which is pretty widely available in the US now, and it’s made in Bavaria by a man from Ecuador who fell in love with a Bavarian woman and moved to Bavaria, and wanted to make a blue cheese that had the character of where he was living in Bavaria, but again, he’s using a Roquefort strain to make the cheese, and it’s so distinctive. It’s exactly what you’re talking about. It’s the best blue cheese I’ve ever tasted. You have to try it if you haven’t, but it could only exist in Bavaria.

LS: Yes.

NB: at the same time, maybe his being from Ecuador and having been a cheese maker there for years plays into it in some way as well.

LS: Right. He might have some technique that’s not in use in Bavaria otherwise.

NB: It’s such a parallel with wine, where you can say that a certain region is a great place to grow grapes, but without the centuries of tradition and the cultural specificity of the wine making process, that’s such an integral part of terroir, I think. We’re talking about dairy and cheese, and meat is another thing that has such a difference from place to place.

LS: Absolutely.

NB: You always hear about there they try to … A certain type of cattle in Italy, and they try to raise it in the US, and they raise it exactly the same way and it’s the genetic offspring of the same cows from Italy, and it just doesn’t taste the same at all.

LS: It’s just not the same, sure, and certainly with lamb we see that. A New Zealand lamb is always going to taste different than an American lamb. Yeah, and that to me is also a kind of if it grows together it goes together situation. If you’re in Italy and you’re having … I think back to when I was in Piedmont, and had this braised shank beef dish with the local Barbera, and it was just perfect. It was the perfect pairing of foods, and the meat wasn’t too rich and the wine wasn’t too rich, and they just had this affinity for each other, and probably came from within five miles of each other also.

NB: Right. It’s funny, you said what grows together goes together, which is a really popular wine and food pairing phrase and philosophy.

LS: Yes.

NB: It’s funny because there is an element of terroir to it that literally the wine that grows in a place and the food that is grown in a place might make sense together, but there’s also a kind of a romantic notion associated with it too. There’s an emotional connection that feels …

LS: Right. You want it to feel evocative. If you’re serving a meal you want to channel a sense of place, and so this idea of if it grows together it goes together is a shortcut to doing that for sure, but I mean, the example I always think of when I hear that phrase is Provence and there’s this base of fennel and orange and olives that’s common there, and that with the rosé, there’s a brightness and a salinity, but it also just feels nice and it feels kind of fancy and luxurious. It feels like you’re there.

NB: Yeah. It’s as much a cultural thing as an agricultural thing, I think.

LS: Right, yeah.

NB: I think about Muscadet and oysters, of course.

LS: Yep.

NB: Those big Argentinian Malbecs with their grass fed beef.

LS: Yes, yeah.

NB: Yeah, it’s funny. Again, it’s that kind of crossover between farming and culture.

LS: Yeah.

NB: That’s interesting. It’s interesting when you travel around and talk to winemakers in different regions. They’re almost … It’s easy to forget that wine starts with farming, with growing grapes.

Layla Schlack: Right.

NB: I find that winemakers are as excited about the food products that are growing in their regions as they are about their grapes.

LS: I love that when you go to California and you go to Oregon, and you go to Washington, so many of the winemakers, they’re buddies with the farmers. In Oregon you have the hazelnut farm down the road and they’re friends, and they eat together because their products compliment each other, but also because they’re doing the same kind of thing.

NB: Yeah. I think that’s a really important thing. They are doing the same kind of thing and they like to … I’ve seen winemakers and farmers talking about it. The winemakers are getting real excited about the plums and they want to know about what soil they grew in and what their process was in coming to that. It’s a nice thing to remember that with wine making they’re growing grapes and they’re farmers.

LS: Yeah.

NB: We haven’t really talked about olive oil yet, but it’s interesting to me how many wineries also make olive oil.

LS: Yes. Yeah, it seems to be that olive trees grow well in the same conditions as grapevines, and that’s something where there is such huge difference from place to place. Arbequina olives are the most commonly used olives for olive oil and you can find Arbequina olive oil from California, from Italy, from Spain, from France, and from all of those places and from regions within those places the olive oil is going to taste different.

NB: Yeah, that’s such a good point. There’s certain generalizations where Italian olive oil is very peppery or grassy and Greek olive oils are very full-bodied and round, but even within that, the same way with the wine, you go from village to village, winery to winery, who are also making olive oil and their olive oil will be completely different, as different as their wines.

LS: Yeah, and a lot of that also comes down to process and storage. We know that olive oil turns quickly, its flavors diminish quickly if it’s stored improperly, but I think the same is true for wine. It’s really the most analogous when we’re talking about terroir.

NB: Yeah. I think talking about some of the … We’re talking about farming and soil. There’s so many fruits and vegetables that are really specific to certain regions. There’s the lemons of Sicily are famous, all the citrus from Sicily, really, the Jersey potatoes from England, the [Pimiento 00:15:25] chili from Spain, and I think people often think of those as a type of fruit or vegetable, but really it has as much to do with it being grown there as it does somewhere else. If you try to plant Sicilian lemon trees in California, they’re not going to taste the same and they’re not going to be prolific.

LS: Right. Well, so I was just actually going to say, here in the northeast, in the summer we look forward to Jersey tomatoes. We have a two to three week window of field-grown Jersey tomatoes, and you can grow the same type of tomatoes hydroponically but they’re not going to taste the same. That’s also something I think of when I was traveling in Turkey and I had … My favorite thing I ate that whole trip was a whole tomato that had just been charred on the outside over a fire, and that was it.

NB: That’s amazing.

LS: It was just like this perfect appetizer, yeah.

NB: When I was in Turkey, they have this minced … Kind of minced vegetable, green relish, and it’s the kind of think that you instantly think, “Ah, this is great. I’ll be able to replicate this at home,” and I’ve tried 20, 30 times and it’s just not the same and it never will be the same because those aren’t the same vegetables. It’s not the same products.

LS: It’s funny, I was actually able to talk to someone there who was involved in the agriculture, and they’re very nonchalant about it. They just have great growing conditions for a lot of things, and so they don’t take a lot of extra steps that farmers elsewhere take. They’re just kind of like, “Yeah, we plant the thing and it grows, and then we eat it, and it’s delicious.”

NB: Right. It’s like when you go to a market in Italy and it’s so abundant and beautiful and the best produce you’ve ever seen, but maybe they only have two things because that’s what’s in season and they don’t give it much thought. It’s just …

Layla Schlack: This is what we have.

NB: This is what’s best now. Why wouldn’t we eat the best thing and the type of mushroom that grows the best at this time and this place?

LS: Well, and those seasons are fleeting, too. Again, with the Jersey tomatoes, that’s all I eat for three weeks. That’s how long I have them.

NB:      Right. Avocados are a great illustration, and maybe something, as they seem to be getting more and more expensive, that people are thinking a lot about now, but people … You go to Mexico and people are like, “Why is this guacamole so great? What do they do to it?” Really they do nothing to it.

LS: Right. It’s the same Hass avocado. It just is growing in different conditions in Mexico than it is in California.

NB: If you go to markets there they really, there’s a lot of different types of avocados, and if you talk to the people selling them, they’re making a distinction, not just about the type of avocado or that it’s from the north or the south, but they’re really drilling down into what town it’s from because they … Presumably, people understand that and care about that there.

LS: Yeah.

NB: I think the thing that’s most exciting to me about this whole idea that we in the US are starting to talk about terroir as it relates to food is that it really is kind of reestablishing that connection between farmers and ingredients, and it’s funny because now we don’t necessarily talk about our walnuts are grown in the central valley of California, and our cranberries are grown in Wisconsin, and this apple comes from eastern Washington, but in restaurants you really do see that now, not just in New York and LA and certain places.

LS: Right.

NB: You see the menus are saying exactly what farm they got it from, what type of pistachio it is and what farm it came from, and why they … It’s interesting to see that conversation kind of happening from the restaurant side and trickling down into our consciousness that way.

LS: It makes so much sense for the restaurants too. The menus are changing constantly with what’s in season and it really allows the chefs to go each morning and get the freshest products, and craft dishes around them, so it’s exciting for them. They’re not cooking the same thing every night.

NB: It’s interesting, though, because it’s kind of a marketing term as well.

LS: Yes.

NB: It’s like, okay, it’s farm to table but is it … Was it ripe? Is the farm … Do they have good practices?

LS: Right.

NB: I think there’s so much talk about local, seasonal, et cetera, but I feel like I’ve started to see more people, restaurants going maybe a little bit away from being hyper-local, hyper-seasonal to just getting the best possible ingredients they can.

LS: Yeah, and they’re certainly both happening. It’s become a joke with me that in the neighborhood I’m moving to in a few weeks, there are a lot of restaurants around and whenever asks me, “So what type of food does that place serve? What type of restaurant is that?” The go-to for all of these places is, “Oh, you know, it’s locally grown, new American, blah, blah food.”

NB: Right. Exactly. New food.

LS: Yeah.

NB: Local, seasonal, farm to table, blah, blah.

LS: Contemporary, farm to table blah blah food.

NB: Yeah, sure, and it’s … I think you have … Sorry. That threw me off a little bit. Yeah. I think it’s a … We’re kind of starting to … Well, we kind of do it all year as we start to kind of bandy about ideas for the restaurant industry when the 100 best wine restaurants, that comes out late summer, and it’s so interesting to see how it’s shifted a little bit from that idea of farm to table and the hyper-local thing. It’s kind of taking on a different character now and I think it does relate to … I find people are less concerned about something being local than using products that really speak of where they’re from, whether it’s olive oil, meat, cheese, produce, herbs, nuts.

LS: Well, and like you said, grown or harvested under good practices.

NB: Right.

LS: You know, I think within that being interesting still trumps all, but that’s also an area where the wine list becomes really important, so if you’re trying to stay local or trying to channel a sense of place, I think a lot of wine directors are following that cue and focusing their lists around it as well.

NB: I think we’re definitely seeing that, and that’s another thing as we’re talking about the restaurant issue, these … To me, the restaurants and the wine programs that are the most exciting are where the wine really relates to the food in a literal sense and a taste sense, but in an emotional sense too. You want the passions of the wine staff and the passions of the kitchen to relate to each other.

LS: Yeah. I mean, I love me a nice, tight, focused wine list.

NB: I do too.

LS: Where I know that it’s all going to go together, that they’re not catering to, “Well, someone might come in who likes this type of wine, so we need to have this type of wine, even if it doesn’t really relate to our food.”

NB: Right.

LS: They’re saying, “No, we’re picking the wines that relate to our food.”

NB: Well, and you see it happening the same way that we used to have Italian restaurants in the US. Then we started getting “authentic Italian restaurants,” and now we have these very, very regional Italian restaurants that now have these equally focused wine lists, and I think it’s just, it’s super exciting and it’s really, I think changing the way that we’re kind of thinking about food and wine.

LS: Well, and it’s also interesting going back to this idea of terroir of food, so there are places that will have hyper-regional Italian cuisine and an Italian wine, but they’re also highlighting that they’re using their locally grown products that are not from Italy, because we’re in the States, so they’re kind of putting their own spin on these dishes just by using ingredients that are grown in a different place.

NB: Well, we have that piece in the new issue on Sicilian cuisine, which there’s a pesto that’s almonds and tomatoes.

LS: Yes.

NB: In Sicily when you have that, it’s just remarkable, but when I was talking to Sicilian chefs, they were like, “Don’t use canned tomatoes, don’t use Sicilian tomatoes and Sicilian almonds. Use the very best, freshest tomatoes and almonds you can find wherever you are.”

Layla Schlack: Right.

NB: That’s so … It’s kind of the … What’s more authentic or what speaks of Sicilian food more? Is it the recipe or is it the integrity of the ingredients? It’s really the latter.

LS: Yeah, and again that goes to just eating being an emotional experience more than anything. You want your food to be evocative.

NB: Beyond eating being an emotional experience, it’s also, especially these days with climate change and environmental concerns, a political one as well to some degree.

LS: Yes. Yeah.

NB: You know, as we start talking about hydroponics, vertical gardening, there’s these ways of growing our fruits and vegetables without dirt.

LS: Right.

NB: But what happens to … Of course I’m so pro anything that allows us to grow more food in an environmentally friendly way.

LS: With lower impact, sure.

NB: But what happens to terroir when that happens?

LS: Yeah. I mean, it’s completely stripping terroir away, right? There’s no soil involved. It’s in a temperature controlled space.

NB: Right. It could be anywhere.

LS: It could be anywhere. I think an interesting thing that’s happening, though, is that people growing with these methods are breeding more selectively, so no it’s not going to have the same sense of place as a lush, Turkish tomato, but it is going to be a tomato that’s bred for sweetness and density and all of those desirable traits.

NB: Right. You just don’t want every tomato bred for sweetness and …

LS: Right. You want to have variety, yeah.

NB: You want to maintain diversity. I think that’s what’s so interesting to me about the GMO debate. To me it’s not whether GMOs are good or bad. It’s that diversity is good.

LS: Yeah.

NB: However that plays out I think it’s so important to maintain diversity, and that’s part of terroir is this kind of the millions of strains of every carrot that exist all over the place.

LS: Yeah. It’s also this whole hydroponic and greenhouse growing topic is also analogous to wine. When you hear people talk about, “Oh, we make good wine in the field,” versus, “We have winemakers who are very hands-on,” right?

NB: Right, right. Totally. It’s the same idea.

Layla Schlack: Instead of farming the grapes you’re crafting it in a controlled environment.

NB: Right, and they would never … I mean, of course, winemakers and the wine world would shudder at the idea of restricting the diversity of grapes.

LS: Yes.

NB: But there’s so much … I mean, it’s happening. In Mexico there’s a saying there called, Sin Maiz, No Hay Maiz, without corn, there’s no country. There’s so much of the land that’s been turned over to very single strains of high yielding corn that foreign corporations are growing in Mexico, and it’s really, it’s become a major political issue there, because they feel if they lose that genetic diversity of corn, how does that affect national identity? That’s well, maybe a topic for another podcast, but it’s so fascinating to me.

LS: Yeah.

NB: Okay, I have a question for you.

LS: Okay.

NB: Everyone says of course, pizza’s great in Italy. You can have a brick oven here. You can do everything the same way, but it won’t taste the same way as Italy. People love to say that it’s the water. What do you think?

LS: It’s not just the water, but the water for sure plays a role. I currently live in New Haven, Connecticut. It’s also known for its pizza, maybe not quite so much as Italy, but probably second to Italy, I’d say.

NB: What’s your favorite pizzeria in New Haven?

LS: You know, I usually go to Modern, just because it’s … The big two are Sally and Pepe’s. Modern’s a Johnny-come-lately, but it’s up there with those two. Modern’s just easier. They all do a great job. They’re all brick oven. New Haven, unlike a lot of cities, will allow people to build new brick ovens. You don’t have to be grandfathered in. There’s no limited supply of brick ovens in the city, and it’s all very thin crust pizza, and when I moved there, the first time I tried to make pizza, I thought something was wrong with my yeast because the dough barely rose. But I’d gotten that far, so I made the pizza anyway.

Again it came out with this thin, crackery crust that is New Haven pizza, not in a brick oven. I didn’t have quite the same char on it, but the water there is very hard, and to me there’s no way that that doesn’t play a role. You know, and because the water is hard I had to rise it for longer, so then it ferments a little bit more. With something like pizza it’s also going to be how you handle the dough and your skill with that, how thin you toss it, but again, hearing about the pizza in Italy and talking about the pizza in Italy, so much of it comes down to that idea of the sense of place, and it just being this kind of magical experience of eating pizza in the home of pizza.

NB: Yeah. They know what they’re doing. It’s like, we can make hard water pizza. We can use Evian and make pizza, but it won’t be the same.

LS: Right.

NB: But that’s interesting about your New Haven experiment. I never would have put that much stock in the importance of the water.

LS: Yeah. No, the water for sure plays a role, and the climate as well. Just temperature and humidity are going to affect how it’s going to rise. It’s also kind of an interesting look at terroir of a finished dish versus an ingredient, right?

NB: Right, right. I was in a beer store the other day and the guy I was talking to there was saying how … He mentioned the terroir of beer. I was like, “Do you mean the grain?” It was like, “No, not the grains, the water.”

LS: Yeah.

NB: It was like, I never really … Of course the water has a major impact in the taste and quality of beer.

LS: Right. It’s one of the main ingredients. Yeah.

NB: But it was so interesting, because I assumed it would be the … He was like, “No, the terroir of hops and grains don’t really transmit, but the water really does,” and he was saying a lot of parts of the country that have these really great craft beer scenes in the US, it’s because they have incredibly … Their water has a certain quality to it that lends itself to their beer being distinctive.

LS: Was he able to talk more about what that … Like, are there certain minerals?

NB: That’s what I was … I was like, “Is it just delicious? Is it soft or hard? Is it tasty?” He didn’t really have an answer, and he said he didn’t want to speak for them because he wasn’t sure how they would characterize that, but I thought it was an interesting point because with terroir I always go to … You know, knowing how many things play into it, I still think about plants and dirt.

LS: Right, right.

NB: That was an interesting thing.

LS: Well, and I also … Now that we’re talking about alcoholic beverages …

NB: We’re in the tasting room of Wine Enthusiast, after all.

LS: Yeah, yeah. We’re surrounded by wine.

NB: It’s hard not to.

LS: I also go a lot to aging and what the … You know, when it’s not in a totally controlled environment, how that plays a role. With spirits, when you look at Scotch, Scotch where the barley is malted and that is aged in kind of wetter environments, has a very different flavor to it than Scotch that is from drier parts of Scotland. Some of that is the grain and how it’s processed and malted, but some of that is just the air. It’s literally just the air.

NB: Right, it’s the micro-climate that it’s existing in. It’s like when I’ve traveled around southern Mexico to visit Mezcal producers. That’s an example where it really is the plant, and those plants take usually a minimum of 10 years to ripen to the point that they can harvest them and make Mezcal, and so you’re really getting … It’s not just … You’re getting decades of terroir in every plant. Because there’s so little done to it in the distillation, the fermentation and distillation process, you really get … I find that those producers attribute everything to the plant and the earth and those years of growing, rather than to the roasting, the fermentation and the distillation, which is maybe different from Scotch producers, for example.

LS: Sure, so now when they roast the plant to make the Mezcal, is it always the same type of fire? I wonder how big a role that plays, what they’re burning to roast it.

NB: Yeah, and they also … Usually it’s roasting for several days in the earth, so it’s actually being cooked in the dirt.

LS: Yes, so again, it’s the soil, yeah.

NB: Which is near where it was grown, and rocks and everything that … The natural materials that they’re using to roast it, that all feeds into it as well, and then you have if they’re fermenting out in the open. You have the natural yeast, and so again in that way it … That’s an example of a spirit that really has a lot of commonality with wine.

LS: Yes.

NB: Thanks so much, Layla. It’s so fun talking to a fellow food freak about this topic. Let’s go get a bite to eat.

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Published on February 15, 2017
Topics: Podcast


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