I believe that many of us are attracted to wine for it's romance and deeply rooted history. It’s timeless. What’s wonderful is that with some practice and knowledge we can learn to see, smell, and taste the history and longstanding traditions of an Old World wine. We can also learn to pick out the bold courage of New World wines who are not restricted to the firm (yet admirable) regulations that Old World winemaking practices follow to this day.
What Is Old World Wine
The vitis vinifera grape, which is the most common species of grape used in winemaking, was sent from the Middle East to Europe thousands of years ago. Where they were sent to is known as the Old World. These countries include France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria and Germany.
Wine regulations were implemented by France, adopted by the other countries and have been practiced in the Old World since the early 1900’s to ensure authenticity of the wine’s terroir and style. Terroir is the winemaking practices and regulations of the region combined with the soil, climate and terrain of the land.
What Is New World Wine
Where vitis vinifera was imported to during the Age of Exploration in the 15th century is considered the New World. These countries include Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.
Unlike the Old World, the New World has little regulations around winemaking practices. This allows for a lot more experimentation with winemaking.
Comparison Chart of Characteristics of New World Wine vs. Old World Wine
Keep in mind, these are generalizations of Old World and New World styles of wine, and there are exceptions to every rule. What to remember is that the key differences in Old World and New World wine come from the winemaking practices, traditions and regulations of the region combined with the soil, climate and terrain of the land – the terroir.
Taste The Difference Between Old World Wine and New World Wine
A great way to learn to see, smell and taste the difference between the Old World and the New World is to try the same varietal (grape type) from each area. Here are some examples:
Tempranillo: Old World vs. New World
- Spain, Rioja, Rioja Alta: 2011 Edición Limitada Rioja from LAN
- USA, California, Sonoma County: 2014 Tempranillo from Imagery Estate Winery
Sauvignon Blanc: Old World vs. New World
- France, Loire Valley, Sancerre: 2015 Sancerre from Gérard Millet
- New Zealand, Marlborough, Wairau Valley: 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from Kim Crawford
Pinot Noir: Old World vs. New World
- France, Burgundy, Meursault: 2011 Meursault Rouge from Matrot
- USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley: 2012 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Vineyards
Level two might be to do a blind-tasting with an Old World and a New World varietal. It’s fun, sparks conversation, and is great practice for the palate. It’s also an impressive party trick. Cheers!