Celebrity Wine FAQ – Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Does Terroir Exist?

CameraZOOM-20140304165510327 So Fox Networks is getting all excited about Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey, the re-boot of the Carl Sagan mini-series from the 1980s, and Anne gets invited to the gala premiere screening and party (good food, decent wine). Fox is premiering this new mini-series on Sunday, March 9 at 9 p.m., and National Geographic Channel is premiering it on Monday, March 10 at 10 p.m., with it also airing on pretty much every channel Fox Broadcasting owns.

The mini-series features Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, of the Hayden Planetarium, and during the post-screening Q&A, Dr. Tyson noted that he enjoys wine.CameraZOOM-20140304180551970

“I drink wine that’s a little bit more expensive than it should be,” he joked.

But it reminded Anne that she did get a wine FAQ from Dr. Tyson a couple summers ago that we never ran for some reason. Maybe we were waiting for this event. More likely life just got in the way. Oh, and Dr. Tyson didn’t really have a question.

“As an academic, any time such a question exists I then find the answer myself,” he said.

But we did have a question for him, because at the time, there were a bunch of scientists who were saying that terroir, doesn’t really make sense. Now, terroir is the French word for earth and you hear it a lot in wine circles, and in that context it’s the concept that the earth the grapes are grown in makes the wine subsequently made from those grape taste unique. In short, wine made from cabernet grapes grown in Bordeaux, France, tastes different than the wine made from cabernet grapes grown in Tuscany, Italy, or anywhere else in the world. The catch is, certain scientists say that it can’t be because there’s no way that different minerals or elements of the soil are going to get into the grapes from the ground.

CameraZOOM-20140304165619045Well, Dr. Tyson believes that terroir exists, even within districts within France.

“From Pauillac to St. Emilion, same grapes, but the wine tastes different, so there’s terroir going on there. Period,” he said. “Why even debate that?”

That doesn’t mean he understands how it works – perhaps no one does.

“I don’t care what the mechanism is, but what’s true is that different plots of land produce wines that taste differently,” he said. “I’m perfectly happy to accept what I know is true without knowing why it’s true. You get the same blend, the same winemaker and there’s two different plots of land and the wine tastes different. That’s terroir. I’m good to go with that.”

And we are, too.




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