Terroir 2020 banner
IVES 9 IVES Conference Series 9 International Terroir Conferences 9 Terroir 2020 9 History and innovation of terroir 9 ‘It’s a small, yappy dog’: The British idea of terroir

‘It’s a small, yappy dog’: The British idea of terroir


Aims: Most consumer research about terroir has focused on wine, particularly with French or other European wine drinkers, rather than those in the Anglo-Saxon world.  In Europe, whilst there is no agreement amongst consumers as to what terroir actually is, there is a general recognition of the word and an acceptance that it represents something important.  There is no certainty that this is the case elsewhere.  This paper helps to fill that gap focusing on British consumers in the context of a project mainly exploring food and terroir.

Methods and Results: This study forms much of a larger transnational study applying discrete choice experiments.  As part of the data collection respondents (who had not been presented with the word ‘terroir’ in any previous questions) were asked what ‘terroir’ meant to them, responding with a single word or short phrase; there was a quota sample of 552.  Qualitative analysis of responses emerged in three forms:

  1. A basic categorisation which split comments into four groups based on the respondent’s apparent knowledge including non- or incorrect responses.
  2. A thematic categorisation which placed all words into one of eleven groups linked directly to the content of the response (e.g., environment, territory, France, wine).
  3. A ‘word cloud’ to reveal visually the relative strength of words used.

Using the basic categorisation the single largest class of response was ‘don’t know’ (49.64%).  The second largest group gave a response that bore some (limited) relationship to traditional definitions of terroir. This class (30.25%) might use a term like soil, terrain, climate, or environment.  Some also made a link to crops or grapes.  Another class (9.06%) made a much more complex link suggesting not just an ecosystem but that the environment directly shaped a resulting product.  The third largest group (11.05%) offered an entirely wrong definition.  Some just implied that it meant ‘good’; nine suggested that it was a (small) dog (terrier) and 21 that it was to do with horror.

The second categorisation grouped respondents given a ‘correct’ definition.  This group (n=217) included a few who defined terroir as ‘natural’, or to do with nature and five who just mentioned a crop or product.  The rest tended to focus on a place, area or territory (n=60) or a climate, environment or ecosystem (n=59).  Another group talked about earth, soil or land (n=79), which could relate either to place generally or ecosystem more specifically.


This is a qualitative analysis but the analysis shows the gulf limited recognition of the word terroir in one Anglo-Saxon country.  Beyond the mere descriptive it also forms a useful starting point for seeing how the British may define the word in terms of place and/or environment.

Significance and Impact of the Study: The study is the starting point for a comparative consideration of consumers’ ideas about and definitions of terroir across a range of countries as well as what the limits for the popular recognition of the idea may be in the UK.


Publication date: March 23, 2021

Issue: Terroir 2020

Type: Video


Steve Charters*, Lara Agnoli, Valeriane Tavila

Burgundy School of Business, Dijon, France

Contact the author


Food terroir, United Kingdom


IVES Conference Series | Terroir 2020


Related articles…

Preliminary study of extraction of polysaccharides from pomace by high powered ultrasonic combined with enzymes

Red grape pomace can be an important source of polysaccharides, but currently they are little studied and even less with viable and environmental extraction processes (green extraction). These green techniques must be able to break the cell wall so that the compounds contained in the cells, including polysaccharides, are released and can have a great influence on extraction yields, the chemical structure of polysaccharides and applications in wines. Amongst the emerging green techniques most applied to the extraction of bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharides, high-power ultrasound (US) and enzyme-assisted extraction stand out.

Arsenic in berries and its correlation with natural soil content: experience in Trentino (Italy)

l lavoro presenta l’evoluzione dei contenuti di arsenico nelle uve durante lo sviluppo e la maturazione, e la sua distribuzione nell’acino; verifica inoltre la relazione tra i contenuti di As nelle uve

Effect of soil particle size on vine water status, leaf abscisic acid content and berry quality in nebbiolo grapes

AIM: We investigated the effect of soil texture on grapevine response to water stress, leaf abscisic acid concentration and berry quality, in two adjacent vineyards located in the renewed Cannubi hill of Barolo (Langhe area, CN, North-West Italy).

The FEM grapevine breeding program: new registered varieties (mid-)resistant to the main ampelopathies

“Vinum debet esse naturale ex genimine vitis et non corruptum”. The Eucharistic wine must be made with pure grapes that must not be contaminated in any way. This is how wine was born in the monastery of the Augustinians, and that is how the genetic improvement of grapevine implemented over the decades at the Agricultural Institute of San Michele all’Adige (since 1874; Trentino – Italy) has been oriented to make the cultivation of grapes always more sustainable. This concept is still current and meets the worldwide urgent need of reducing the use of chemicals, under a climate crisis scenario. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the varieties introduced in Trentino and the new cultivars produced by pioneer breeders have already embraced the principle of sustainable viticulture.

Iso-/anisohydric behavior in wine grapes may be a matter of soil moisture

There are claims that wine grape cultivars are either isohydric or anisohydric; the former maintaining, and the latter decreasing, their plant water status as soil moisture declines. However, available information is inconsistent. There are those that show an existence of a continuum in cultivar response to soil moisture rather than a distinct categorization. Others even show both behaviors in the same cultivar grown in different environments. In this study we investigated the behavior of 30 own rooted Vitis vinifera cultivars during successive drydown and rewatering cycles over two growing seasons in arid eastern Washington (<200 mm annual precipitation).