As the budding wine connoisseur that you are, you may have heard the terms, “Old World,” and “New World” wines. Old World wines refer to wines that come from traditional winemaking countries. These are countries in Europe and parts of the Middle East like France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Germany. New World wines come from any other part of the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Chile, South Africa, etc.
One of the biggest distinguishers between Old and New World wines is that Old World wines come from parts of the globe that tend to have cooler climates. This gives the wines less sweetness, higher acidity, and softer flavors. Other important differences are that the production methods of Old World wines tend to be much more strictly regulated and their labeling tends to favor labeling the region the wine was produced rather than the grape varietal or individual winemaker.
By contrast, New World wines typically come from countries closer to the equator and therefore, warmer climates. This gives the wines sweeter, fruitier, and bolder flavors. Since these markets are newer, winemakers are more experimental in their winemaking processes and labeling tends to highlight the grape varietal and individual winemakers.
Related: How To Read French Wine Labels
Old World wines have traditionally been thought of as superior quality wines due to the long history and strict regulations around their production. But, if you are thinking to yourself, “I thought wine from Sonoma Valley was world-class?”, you aren’t wrong. New global wine producers in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, and more are changing the global wine market. A Tempranillo from Spain and a Tempranillo from Argentina taste remarkably different due to the different environments that they are grown in, as do a Pinot Noir from France versus a Pinot Noir from California. But different doesn’t necessarily mean better or worse. As markets have become accustomed to the taste of New World wines and New World regions have established themselves with particular grape varietals, Old World versus New World continues to become more subjective.
With new wine producers emerging all the time from all over the globe, the world of wine is rapidly growing and changing. It is an exciting time to stay open to the many new and delightful creations. So, next time you hear someone saying that Old World wines are always superior, you can remind them that both tradition and innovation can create beautiful artistry.
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