Old world wine versus new world wine, it’s a debate that never ends at the dinner party. France has a rich history and well-known culture in winemaking that’s incomparable. Then again, the United States has made a huge impact in the wine world with regions like Napa Valley exploding with identifiable and flavourful wines. But do we really need to choose? Is one better than the other?
Let’s get down to basics. What is new world wine, what’s old world wine, and how do they differ. There are 4 (well 4 and a half) main differences that distinguish an old world wine from a new world wine.
- Region (the most obvious difference)
Old world wines come from countries like France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Spain and Hungary. It is where wine making first started. With that definition countries like Turkey, Albania, and Georgia (where the winemaking grape, Vitis Vinifera, originated!) are also considered old world wines.
New world wines come from countries where winemaking and the Vitis Vinifera grape were imported during and after the age of exploration. These include the United States, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, Chile, and New Zealand.
Old world wines are generally named after where they come from, the most famous examples being Bordeaux (named after the region in France it is made), Chianti, and Champagne. Many wine aficionados know the Bordeaux is a blend of Cab Sauv, Merlot, and other red grapes but those that don’t would be left scratching their heads looking for the wine blend on the label.
In new world wines, the winemakers are far more upfront, labelling the grape or blend of grapes, clearly and prominently on the label. Younger consumers are far more comfortable with this openness.
Tradition – the old world winemakers stick to the traditional methods of winemaking in oak barrels, the flavours of the oak often transfers, giving a distinct characteristic to the wine. This has become synonymous with a more elegant wine.
Science – new world winemakers age their wines in stainless steel vats, leaving no room for “contamination” and this often results in more fruit forward full-bodied reds.
Now, these are just a generalization of styles as more old world countries adopt new world techniques and vice versa.
- Man vs. Nature
In the old world, it is much more common to rely more on terroir (a French term meaning all the environmental factors that involve grape growing) for production. Everything from soil to climate, or topography of the land can affect the wine at the end of each year.
In the new world, it is far more common that the emphasis is placed on the winemaker and his ability to produce a great bottle of wine year after year.
The last point to mention but it really is a side note, the label design is also quite different from the new world to old world bottles. Old world wines put importance on more traditional designs, focusing on appellation and producer. Whereas new world wines focus more on brands and varieties with colourful labels.
Old, new, red, white, sparkling, still, whatever you drink, enjoy it! No one is better than the other and phooey on anyone who tries to tell you so. Close your eyes and let the flavours of the wine take you to another world, be it new or old.
Macedo Winery & Macedo U-Vin integrate Old World and New World winemaking techniques creating a unique & exquisite balance that we are confident you will enjoy!