The current food-obsessed climate prizes terroir in everything, from beef to coffee to olive oil. You don’t just buy a steak; you buy a Piedmontese ribeye. Winemakers have been sniffing the soil and praying to the grape gods for centuries, though. Wine at its best is spiritually, ritually, and tribally connected to a place. (At its worst it’s a commercial product no different than a soft drink.) Knowing the major wine regions provides some basic insight with which we can approach the wine aisle or pick a bottle at a restaurant. It helps us understand what we can expect from the a Malbec from Mendoza or a Gran Reserva-designated wine from Rioja. It doesn’t give us the right to use “pencil lead” and “hot brioche” as tasting notes. We’ll get to that, but for now, read and enjoy this guide to the 10 essential wine regions of the world.

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