In wine, terroir is the concept that flavor is derived from a sense of place. The vineyard’s terrain, soil, sunlight, water quality, microclimate, etc. contribute to a unique wine that encapsulates a particular place and time. In the oyster world, we say that oysters each have their own merroir, that each oyster is intimately impacted by the body of water it comes from, the algae it feeds on, the strength of currents and tides, the mineral content of the seafloor, rainfall, temperature, season and more. Although oysters can be the same species and grown in a similar manner, just a difference of a few miles in location can have a big effect on their flavor.
In French, the word mer means sea, and so the term merroir has been adopted to describe a sense of terroir for oysters. So, the next time you’re at the raw bar with friends, try dropping a fancy vocabulary word and teach them something new!