Taste and smell from the garden: how the environment where plants are grown affects

Taste and smell from the garden

The scientists noticed an amazing case, the taste of wine in the Napa Valley in California was unusual, it tasted of the green pepper. The winemaker explained that there is a green pepper field next to the vineyards. It turned out that it is a case of terroir, a combination of soil and climatic factors and characteristics of the terrain. It has also a name "the sense of place." In different countries, that feature is used to give unique tastes. For example, the cocoa from Madagascar can have a bright raspberry and even citrus flavor.

And the cocoa from the Dominican Republic is a nutty chocolate taste. In some countries, dozens of manufacturers draw attention to their product by advertising terroir as an integral part of the taste of their products.


Today this method is used as a marketing strategy, and not only in the production of wine or chocolate. Labels with characteristic symbols can be found on packaging of beer, coffee and tea. The Cornell University researchers are studying the characteristics of terroir and believe that the consumers became more interested in the region of the products they eat.

People distinguish taste characteristics by studying both the taste itself and its aftertaste. In this case, the scientific definition of terroir is not quite capacious, and does not include all modern characteristics.

It is traditionally applied in France, where the climate, the location of the soil and, of course, the proximity of different plants, insects and microorganisms that influence the taste of wine products, are taken into account in wine production. The concept of terroir was used by Benedictine monks from Burgundy in the Middle Ages.


Today, the scientists are confident that the place where the plants used to prepare food and drinks are grown reflects the taste of the environment. They are able to convey the chemical and microbial signatures very distinctly, in every note of the food. In some cases, these scientific observations help to shape the special savory flavors of foods and beverages.

An ecologist Jim Eleringer from the University of Utah at Salt Lake City believes that plants passively metabolize soil micronutrients. After examining about 40 dozen samples of roasted coffee beans from 21 countries, he determined the concentration of 40 trace elements that are traditionally found in soil. However, they remained constant even after roasting the Arabica beans. Thus, the plants contain the chemical imprint of the terrain of different regions.