The Wine Shopping Tip You Should Also Use For Potatoes

Wine and potatoes are more alike than you might think. Like wine, potatoes should be stored in cool, dry places with plenty of ventilation and darkness. And while potatoes don't age the way wine does, when it comes to selecting potatoes, we need to look all around. 

What does this mean? In winemaking, there is a term called "terroir" or "a sense of place." This stands for not only the soil the grape vines grow in, but the climate and terrain of the land. Terroir can differ between farms just a few miles from one another. It greatly influences the way the grapes grow and the types of flavors they produce. This, in turn, affects the flavor of the wine. 

Yes, but what does that have to do with potatoes? Well, terroir affects potatoes the same as it affects coffee beans and wine grapes. While you would want to do your research and make sure that the wine you are drinking has come from an area with good terroir, why not do the same for potatoes? But how exactly does one examine the terroir for potatoes if they have no idea where the ones in the supermarket are from in the first place? Our answer: Buy local.

The importance of local terroir

Potato expert Dominik Klier put it this way in an interview with AllRecipes: "It's the same with potatoes and wine. The terroir counts. Local farmers will know which types of potatoes grow best in the ground." The wisdom of this statement lies in the advocacy for supporting local farms. Not only are the farmers going to be able to tell you everything you need to know about the potatoes they grow, but they'll know why the surrounding terroir is the best place for it.

Using Idaho as an example, farmers there have long claimed that they can taste the difference between potatoes grown in different parts of the state. On a certain level, this makes sense. If terroir can have such an effect on the flavor of wine, surely it will have an effect on a root vegetable that literally spends its entire growing cycle in the earth. 

No one is better qualified to tell you the characteristics of a local terroir than those who farm it. They are in constant contact with the soil, terrain, and climate. They can tell you what grows in season, what the potatoes taste like, what they are best used for, etc, etc. And purchasing from local farms goes a long way toward supporting the local economy. So don't settle just because potatoes are so readily available at the grocery store. Do your research and buy your produce locally. There is no better guarantee of quality.