HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese?

Red Wine that Tastes Like the Smell of Dirt

jarona Dec 6, 2010 10:53 AM

Well..that is the only way I can describe wine that I love. I'm not a wine expert and would love to surprize my honey (who is French) with a great woody, dirt tasting, full-bodied red wine that won't give a headache. However, I have to take what I like into consideration b/c I'll be drinking it as well.
(I'm bad--LOL).
So if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

  1. b
    Brad Ballinger Dec 6, 2010 02:16 PM

    Oh, what the heck, I'll play... Cahors for dry dirt, and Bandol for moist earth.

    1. sunshine842 Dec 6, 2010 02:37 PM

      Try a Gigondas for dirt.

      1. j
        jock Dec 6, 2010 03:21 PM

        most chilean reds taste and smell like dirt. but imo not in a good way.

        4 Replies
        1. re: jock
          bclevy Dec 6, 2010 03:37 PM

          Dirt tasting is subjective. Cahors, Bandol, and Gigondas are all great suggestions,
          but if you are looking for powerful and rustic wines, you might want to add Vacqueras and
          Madiran to the list.

          1. re: bclevy
            sunshine842 Dec 6, 2010 09:18 PM

            I was trying to think of Vacqueyras, but it was getting late and I wasn't inspired to look it up.

            Vacqueyras most definitely can have some dirt-y and barn-y aromas.

            (One of my *ding-ding-ding!* moments when tasting wine (when I began to "get it") came in the Touraine region - they brought out a red that had been nicely oaked, and one smell brought the images of wet autumn leaves to my mind. The vintner was a little amused by my level of excitement, but happy to see the lights go on!)

            1. re: sunshine842
              ChefJune Dec 30, 2010 11:23 AM

              Don't forget about Chateauneuf-du-Pape! Nice and dirty... in the best way. ;)

          2. re: jock
            Bill Hunt Dec 20, 2010 05:39 PM


            I am with you. Though they produce and export great quantities of wine, I have found but two, that I would actually buy.

            I often describe canned poi as tasting like "dirt," and that does hold for Chilean wines too. Now, good, fresh-pounded poi is a different story.


          3. s
            sedimental Dec 6, 2010 05:16 PM

            If you are looking for an nice aged wine.... a Dunn Cabernet always tastes like mossy/dirt/leather /cedar to me...in a nice way. They can be found on winezap or wine commune for around 100 bucks.

            1. SteveTimko Dec 6, 2010 07:18 PM

              Southern Rhones to me taste like plants, not dirt.
              I vote Burgundy.

              3 Replies
              1. re: SteveTimko
                bclevy Dec 6, 2010 10:54 PM

                I disagree. Cab Francs like Chinon taste like vegetables, like Carmenere from
                Chile. That green veggie taste is absent from Rhones.

                1. re: bclevy
                  SteveTimko Dec 7, 2010 07:04 AM

                  I was think garrigue.

                  1. re: SteveTimko
                    ibstatguy Dec 20, 2010 07:42 PM

                    i've gotta vote with Steve on this

              2. w
                WtotheN Dec 7, 2010 04:36 AM

                A friend thinks most Argentine Malbecs taste of dirt.

                16 Replies
                1. re: WtotheN
                  jarona Dec 7, 2010 05:48 AM

                  Oh Merde! This is better than I would have expected. I've some more questions--since honey is a "french" wine snob and feels that the only wines worth ingesting are french. (For me, as long as they taste like the smell of dirt and I don't get a headache, I'm fine-o). The Bandol and Chors--are they French wines? Is Gigondas French--some of these sound Italian and Spanish. the Vacqueras really piques my interest. But the Dunn Cabernet--it has a leathery kind of taste? That's even better. You know, this is just so weird--When I was a kid, my favorite flavor for drinking was chocolate--in milk and in egg creams. Now I find myself drawn to wine that tastes like dirt and earth and leather--is this normal?

                  1. re: jarona
                    sunshine842 Dec 7, 2010 06:05 AM

                    Bandol, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Cahors, Madiran, and Chinon are all French. (Honest!)

                    Bandol (bahn-dole), Gigondas (zhee gawn dahs), and Vacqueyras (vah-kay-rahs), are all produced in Provence (southeast), Cahors (ka-ors) and Madiran (ma-dee-rahn) come from the southwest, and Chinon (shee-nahn) from the Loire (south of Paris).

                    1. re: sunshine842
                      ChefJune Dec 30, 2010 11:25 AM

                      Leave the "sses" off the ends of those appellations They're all silent (like the "p" in fish).

                      1. re: ChefJune
                        SteveTimko Dec 30, 2010 12:53 PM

                        Parisian French has the S as silent. If you're from Provence, you pronounce it as a z.

                        1. re: SteveTimko
                          sunshine842 Dec 30, 2010 01:14 PM

                          ChefJune, I'm with Steve...and I'm not going to tell my Provencal winemaker friend that she's pronouncing the name of her product wrong.

                          1. re: sunshine842
                            bclevy Dec 30, 2010 04:34 PM

                            Even in Paris, Gigondas and Vacqueyras are usually pronounced with
                            an audible "s". On the other hand, the "s" of Cahors is always silent.
                            I would also add that the "an" and "on" sounds in Bandol, Madiran
                            and Chinon are rather harsh and hard to reproduce for English

                            1. re: bclevy
                              sunshine842 Dec 31, 2010 12:13 AM

                              but if you can get reasonably close, usually people know what you're trying to say. The French are far more forgiving of bad pronunciation than they're given credit for.

                              1. re: bclevy
                                BN1 Dec 31, 2010 08:47 AM

                                I don't hear the "s" in Vacqueyras.

                                1. re: BN1
                                  Chinon00 Dec 31, 2010 09:16 AM

                                  Will this pissing contest end?

                                  1. re: Chinon00
                                    BN1 Dec 31, 2010 12:47 PM

                                    In traveling all over the Rhone Valley and into Burgundy the last two years, I’ve found that pronunciations are very important. The people we have met do not speak English and have little patience trying to understand broken French. Although I completed French 4 in college, my basic French was taught to me by a French Canadian, which is nothing like French in France. The French spoken in Provence is a dialect that Parisians have trouble understanding, like English in the southern US. I’m headed to Tours in a couple months, where I’ve been told that people are fussier about pronunciation than Parisians. I’ve had trouble making myself understood when ordering wine, so I’ve been trying to learn to speak French wine terms correctly. So your pissing contest is my important understanding for my trip. I’ve found this thread very interesting.

                                    1. re: BN1
                                      SteveTimko Dec 31, 2010 12:52 PM

                                      do you say nu ore leans or nah lins?

                                      1. re: SteveTimko
                                        BN1 Dec 31, 2010 01:01 PM

                                        I'm trying to teach myself to say nah lins.

                                        1. re: SteveTimko
                                          shellnyc Feb 3, 2014 06:29 PM

                                          both are wrong and would get you flagged as an outsider in said city

                                      2. re: Chinon00
                                        sedimental Dec 31, 2010 01:04 PM

                                        Now, now Chinon00.....
                                        is that "pissing" with one "s" or two???????

                          2. re: jarona
                            ibstatguy Dec 20, 2010 07:44 PM

                            if you want a Vacqueryas, look for "Sang des Cailloux"; year in and year out one of my very favorite wines.

                          3. re: WtotheN
                            bclevy Dec 7, 2010 02:06 PM

                            Malbec (aka Cot) is also the grape used predominently for Cahors. But
                            Argentinian Malbecs tend to be rounder and more polished. Cahors needs to be aired
                            a long time and comes off as slighly rougher but a tad more powerful. It is the
                            perfect wine to accompany rich food like duck or cassoulet on a cold winter night.
                            Since Malbec from Argentina and Cahors are close relatives, it is not too
                            surprising they would both evoke dirt.

                          4. c
                            CocoaNut Dec 7, 2010 07:25 AM

                            This, coming from someone who isn't a wine-drinker, but knows dirt when they taste it..... Try a Delaney Cab or Chardonnay. Several years ago, I went to a wine tasting and made the "dirt" comment to a friend. The comment was overheard and in a most snooty tone, I was rebuked with a retort of: It is classed as an "earthy" wine. ! Well, I guess I was told the what-for!

                            In any case.... prove your honey wrong with a dirty TX wine!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: CocoaNut
                              budnball Dec 7, 2010 01:37 PM

                              I'm from Northern California and most of my wine knowledge comes from here. My first Chateauneuf de Pape smelled and tasted of a barnyard which, I was told was the point. It was not bad but different.

                              1. re: budnball
                                hsk Jan 1, 2011 09:18 PM

                                I like "earthy", but I never liked "barnyard" unless it's just a hint.

                            2. Chinon00 Dec 7, 2010 05:35 PM

                              Second Madiran

                              1. r
                                ReeseChiarlo Dec 9, 2010 12:05 PM

                                Some of my favorite "dirty" wines come from South Africa:

                                2 options for you:

                                1. Onyx Syrah

                                2. Rust en Vrede Cabernet or Merlot
                                (side note this wine was served at President Nelson Mandelas Nobel Peace Prize Dinner). Cocoa, cherry, dusty, hints of vanilla. A great wine with rustic meats.

                                1. Eiron Dec 30, 2010 09:35 AM

                                  My favorite is Beaulieu Vinyards' Rutherford cabernet. Very full-bodied with lots of dirt, but not so much wood/loam.

                                  1. MOREKASHA Dec 30, 2010 04:19 PM

                                    Retsina from Greece.

                                    1. capeanne Dec 31, 2010 12:56 PM

                                      Pommard equals Barnyard .....that's how I remember not to order it....don't like that taste at all

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: capeanne
                                        Iowaboy3 Dec 31, 2010 01:03 PM

                                        Nothing like a good Madiran (Mourvedre) with some fresh road-kill.

                                      2. j
                                        JeremyEG Jan 1, 2011 08:07 PM

                                        I sometimes taste dirt in better quality Riojas. Try a Muga Reserva maybe?

                                        1. g
                                          graddini Jan 15, 2011 05:21 AM

                                          Spanish Wines are noted for their sense of "terroir" as are many of the wines listed by your friends here. Whereas New World winemakers have (until recently) tried for more generic flavor profles, Old World winemakers see terroir as an essential part of the wine's flavor. Try a Priorat or a Montsant or any wine from Alvaro Palacios. Wet black slate is one of the descriptors of these wines and they can be intense and powerful.

                                          1. l
                                            lightheld2xmoisture Feb 3, 2014 11:02 AM

                                            What about Sicilian wines? At Babbo (on Waverly in the Village), we flat out told the som' we wanted something that tastes like dirt. "I have just the thing," he said crisply, and he brought back the most intense, nearly opaque, dry, full-bodied thing that stepped out of a deep dank loamy grave & swept us straight off to paradise. Worst part of the story: we forgot the name. I think it was from the Conte region, but not sure. About 3 years ago, they were offering it for 150 or 155/bottle. Sadly, they've changed their wine list since then, & we haven't been able to track it down. Anybody have any idea? Leads? Guesses?

                                            1. t
                                              TombstoneShadow Feb 3, 2014 10:10 PM

                                              Uhhh.... Graves, as in "gravel" :)

                                              But really, many rich wines have an earthy note reflecting the soils of their vineyards, be it a prominent or more subtle flavor....

                                              Show Hidden Posts