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Old World vs. New World Wine — What Does It Mean?

Jun 09, 2022

Wine terminology can be confusing, but learning the basics about these two phrases and the wines they represent can help you shop smarter and better understand the bottles you choose to bring home and enjoy.

Regions

Old World and New World wines are defined by the area in which they originate.

When you hear "Old World," think about the countries that helped create and nurture traditional winemaking. France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal are all home to wineries and winemaking families that go back generations, but the Old World also includes less commonly recognized regions such as Lebanon, Israel, and Croatia.

The discoveries made in the Old World were eventually taken to the New World by immigrants, where they would eventually take root and flourish (sometimes literally).

New World wine regions are those countries that adapted traditions from the Old World to create a new world of winemaking. (Makes sense, right?) This includes Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States, Canada, and countries throughout South America like Argentina and Chile.

Flavours

Old World wines are known for being a bit more subtle, with acidity taking precedence over alcohol levels and earthy flavours and aromas pushed to the forefront. These wines are often lighter bodied as well, and typically designed to be as food friendly as possible.

New World wines are generally higher in alcohol with lower levels of acidity, with big tannins and bold flavours that emphasize fruit over earth. Expect full-bodied wines that do a great job of showcasing the warm climate and lush crops found in New World regions.

How They're Made

Though there are always exceptions to the rule, generally speaking Old Wine winemaking is much stricter compared to techniques used by New World producers. This is because Old World wineries are still under strict regulations that determine everything from how grapes are grown to how and in what wine can be aged to what can and cannot be put on labels.

New World winemaking is far less stringent. While there are obviously some echoes in terms of technique, there is far more room for experimentation.

As for which style is better, the answer is 100% up to you. There is beauty in both Old World and New World wines. Choose a style based on what you plan on eating or what your palate prefers on that particular day and you're sure to have a stellar experience.

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