Listen to a group of people describe wines, and before long, you’re certain to hear someone say that a wine “tastes like wet stones.” Understandably, you might be taken aback. What they’re really getting at is that the wine has “minerality.”
If licking wet stones isn’t something you can relate to, know that minerality covers earthy descriptors like chalk, gunflint, and seashells. You’ll usually find it in lean white wines that are more focused on high acidity than fruitiness. Therefore, if you’re hunting for minerality, you should begin your search in cool climate regions from the Old World, like Chablis, Champagne, and the Loire Valley in France, as well as Mosel in Germany. You’ll also find minerality in wines made with grapes grown in certain types of soil. For example, the rock-strewn slate in Priorat produces wines with notes of asphalt, while the massive volcanoes beneath the vineyards of Etna and Campania lead to savory wines that are salty, stoney, and smokey.