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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is terroir more important than grape variety?

—Fabio, Whitstable, U.K.

Dear Fabio,

That's like asking if the singer (the grape variety) is more important than the song (the terroir). You need both to enjoy the music.

To clarify, the term terroir means a "sense of place" and is used to explain why certain wines have their specific personality. At its most basic level, it's the intersection of climate, soil type and topography (though it also references even more specific things like sun exposure, elevation and drainage). The flavors of wine made from a particular grape variety will change depending on the terroir where it grows, and the expression of the terroir will change depending on which grape variety is growing in it.

—Dr. Vinny

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