What Does Old World Vs. New World Wine Really Mean?

By The ThirstyNest Editors


Okay, so where are these two “Worlds?”

The term Old World typically refers to countries that have been making wine for centuries. These regions make up the birthplace of wine production and are essentially all located in Europe. The usual suspects include France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Austria. All the places where you plan to rent a villa for your honeymoon. However, even the slightly lesser known nearby wine countries fall into that bucket such as Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia. They probably have villas too.

So, what’s defined as New World? The rest of the globe! The term most commonly refers to the United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and Argentina. That said you can find wine being produced in dozens of other “New World” countries including India, China and Japan.

Do they actually taste different?

The first thing to note is that wine production in Old World regions is much more highly regulated than New World. That regulation is one of the main reasons their wines have such different flavor profiles.

Old World wines typically taste lighter, lower in alcohol and have higher acidity. This structure also makes them excellent wines to pair with food. On the other hand, New World wines are considered higher in alcohol, a more fruit forward palate and are what some describe as riper.

Outside of regulations, the other important reason these wines have distinctly different flavor profiles is based on place. Place can refer to the specific terroir or soil, but it also refers to the geography of where they are growing vines. Climate is one of the most important aspects of wine. Warmer wine regions make bigger, more fruit forward wines while wines of cooler regions are leaner with higher acidity.

Do all Old World and New World Wines fall into these descriptions?

No. While we’re making gross generalizations to define these terms, many wineries break these rules out of the gate. Some wineries don’t fit these descriptions based on place alone. Oregon and New Zealand are significantly cooler climates than many parts of Italy and Greece. That means their wines are typically lighter and higher in acidity than their warmer, bikini-clad European friends.

In today’s winemaking, both worlds learn from each other. The old world has taken note of the quality and popularity of new world wines and in turn modernized their winemaking techniques. On the other hand, the new world has learned that while the scientific/formulaic approach they started with creates wines that are clean and sound, it lacks the artistry and distinct personality of the old world wines. As a result you now see the new world wineries going back to old methods like amphora and concrete tanks, native fermentations, and basket presses, etc.

One perfect example of this marriage is Artesa in Napa Valley. The oldest winemaking family in Spain, Codorniu Raventos, founded this winery as their first endeavor in the New World. Taking 17 generations of winemaking practices with them, the Codorniu Raventos family created Artesa to make Spanish-inspired new world wines by marrying Californian terroir and innovations with old world practices at their winery in the Napa Valley.

How do Old World traditions translate in a New World?

Similar to weddings themselves, some of the best things in life are made by marrying the old and the new. The Artesa Estate Pinot Noir is that experience in a bottle. Using the family’s Spanish origins, the Artesa team crafted a beautifully structured wine grown from the soils of Carneros. This handcrafted happily-ever-after is one that’s celebrated throughout their winery. Artesa’s #wcw-worthy winemaker, Ana Diogo-Draper, has a philosophy that’s all about both worlds using native fermentations with state-of-the-art, modern, winemaking tools. You can read more about her techniques here:

We love to enjoy bottles like this one with a little Old World flair. Take a nod from our Spanish friends and upgrade your Sunday night family meal with a great bottle that combines both the Old World and the New. Like your marriage, they really are better together.

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