Old World VS New World Wines

When it comes to terms such as new world wine and old world wine, there is quite a bit of confusion among people new to wine. What is the difference between both ? How does wine change from one “world” to another? And what is New World wine, anyway? So let's take a look at the difference between New World and Old World wines and how they differ because it can quickly get obtuse.

New VS Old world: What's the difference?

In broad terms, it is a question of knowing when the wine-making traditions of the region date back. When we refer to “ old world ” wines, it is because historically vines and wine have existed for millennia, i.e. 4 to 5,000 years BC. We obviously find, in this circle of wine-producing countries, France, but also Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and even Middle Eastern countries. -East like Lebanon and Israel.

Conversely, when we talk about wines from the “ new world ”, it is because the vines have existed there for a shorter time , that is to say around 400 years; Within these countries practicing recent viticulture, we will talk about the United States, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Additionally, a few other key factors like the taste and flavor of the wine can help differentiate between “old world” and “new world” wines. We are talking about generalities here, because as in any area, there are exceptions! To be able to compare the characteristics of wines from these two worlds, we must assume that we are talking about one and the same grape variety .

 

Characteristics of Old World wines :

  • Lighter body
  • Lower alcohol
  • Higher acidity
  • Less fruity flavors, more mineral flavors

 

Characteristics of New World wines :

  • Fuller body
  • Higher alcohol
  • Lower acidity
  • Pronounced fruit flavors

 

New World producers focus on grapes , often producing wines with a fruitier taste. New World regions tend to be warmer, so the grapes are riper and have a higher sugar content, which results in a greater alcohol content . The wines are full-bodied, with a taste of riper fruit and low acidity, often with an oak-influenced style. Rounder and with soft tannins, they may also be ready to drink when young. But these are only generalities, fortunately the world is full of exceptions!

Rules are made to be broken, which is why, when tasting a Pinot Noir blind, one might wonder whether it is an Old or New World wine. Wine style is influenced by climate, microclimate, soil, viticulture and viniculture. But human intervention also plays a key role. Depending on the personality, experience and personal preference of the winemaker , the same grape variety , grown in different regions, can vary considerably. While winemakers in the New World are often eager to experiment, those in the Old World tend to follow traditional winemaking methods to preserve centuries of history.

New World VS Old World Labels

What you need to know is that already in the design of labels between wines from the New World and those from the Old World, we notice big differences. Old World wine labels tend to be more traditional , always mentioning the producer and appellation (which reassures us that the grapes are processed with a certain winemaking method) to be in accordance with the internal specifications for each region. In fact, this region has strict regulations that allow specific grape varieties in certain regions, harvesting methods, minimum alcohol levels, and winemaking methods.


New World wine labels tended to indicate grape varieties as well as brands very clearly, often with strong, colorful designs. New World regions have fewer laws to regulate winemaking. Therefore, winemakers are free to plan and harvest all types of grape varieties wherever they want. This is seen not only in the information you find on the label, but also sometimes graphically, from a design point of view.

So who's the boss?

Two different worlds , but lots to learn. I had the opportunity to participate in tasting evenings pitting the two styles against each other, where everyone had to bring a nugget from a country and share it around the table. Our wine glasses kept exercising our olfactory memories, and as the night progressed, we learned new things, exchanging information we had collected for our wine countries, and searching online for information additional for each producer we tasted.

We couldn't decide if we were more interested in New or Old World wines...and we didn't have to. Every palate is unique and to immerse yourself in the world of wine, all it takes is a sip, nothing else.


When you enjoy a glass of wine, it's a time for you to immerse yourself in your senses and forget about the rules. Wine is made in the most beautiful places , by enthusiasts crazy enough to climb mountains, hills and slopes to experience the pure expression of nature. It can reveal in the most romantic way an imprint of time, man and nature. Before pouring yourself the next glass, close your eyes and travel over the area. Dream about the landscape, the climate, the food, the language, the people. Then take a sip. Wine is your personal journey around the world.

Thank you for reading this article and don’t hesitate to share it with others if you liked it! 

See you soon and continue exploring your senses !

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