Old World and New World are important terms in the wine world. The Old World refers to the countries that have been making wine for thousands of years, like France, Italy, and Spain. While the New World refers to countries that have been making wine for a much shorter amount of time, like the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The wines from these two areas have a few major differences, and this is especially apparent when tasting wines from the New World and the Old World side by side. So who wins? Old World vs New World?
Here are a few key differences between these two areas of the world.
1. Differences in flavor profiles Old World vs New World
Old World wines typically have lighter bodies, lower alcohol content, brighter acidity, and more earthy flavors. On the contrary, New World wines generally have a fuller body, more alcohol, less acidity, and a riper, fruiter taste. This is due to the difference in climates. The New World tends to be warmer, which means the grapes are often riper compared to the Old World. Riper grapes have a lower acidity and more sugar, which after fermentation becomes a higher alcohol content.
2. Winemaking techniques employed in the two worlds
The Old World vs. New World wine-tasting experience is also heavily influenced by winemaking techniques, particularly with oak aging. In the New World, new oak is more frequently used, which imparts more oak flavors into the wine. While in the Old World, older, neutral oak barrels are more common, which gives very little oak taste to the wine.
Did you know that in the Old World, older, neutral oak barrels are commonly used, while new oak barrels are more common in the New World.
3. Differences in wine labeling
New world wine labels are often simpler to read and understand compared with Old World wine labels. The New World often puts the grape variety directly on the label, while the Old World tends to put the region in which the grapes were grown. In order to know which grape variety or varieties were used to make the Old World wine, you must know which grapes are grown in that particular region. For example, a Chianti from Italy will never list the grape varieties used to make the wine. Instead you must be aware that Chianti by law must contain at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape variety.
4. Differences in winemaking culture and heritage
Another key difference between the Old and New World is the amount of regulations wineries must follow. Old World regions have produced certain styles of wine for a very long time, and contemporary winemakers are expected to uphold these traditions. Most Old World regions have created laws to maintain the traditional style of wine the region is known for, and wineries must follow these laws if they wish to be able to make wine under the region’s name.
Did you know that some wine regions in the Old World have been making wine the same way for centuries?
While some argue that this limits the winemaker’s creativity, others appreciate the wine’s historical significance. It’s a romantic notion to know that the wine in your glass has been made the same way for generations.
On the contrary, the entrepreneurial spirit you would anticipate from the descendants of emigrants who set out in pursuit of a new and better life is embodied by the wines and the winemakers in the New World. There is a great deal of innovation and variation in winemaking techniques in these regions due to a lack of regulations governing the wine.
There you have it! Make sure to pick up some bottles of each and have your own Old World vs New World wine tasting.
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Mark O’Neill, ‘Do you know how Oak affects wine?’ 12th, April 2022, https://markoneill.es/en/do-you-know-how-oak-affects-wine
Nan McCreary, ‘OLD WORLD VS. NEW WORLD WINES: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?’ Nov. 10th 2020, https://www.rodeohouston.com/News/ArtMID/488/ArticleID/2725/Old-World-vs-New-World-Wines-Whats-the-difference
VinePair Inc., ‘The Guide To Old World Wine Vs. New World Wines, 2022, https://vinepair.com/wine-101/guide-old-world-vs-new-world-wines/