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Old World Wine vs New World Wine

Old World Wine vs New World Wine

Which World Reigns Supreme?

If you’re learning more about wine and winemaking in general, you’ve probably encountered the terms “Old World” and “New World.” If you haven’t — well, you have now. So let’s keep going! Some wine traditionalists assert that Old World wines are the best because they pay homage to old winemaking techniques, while other wine experts may claim to enjoy New World wines more because they bend the rules and break with traditions. 

When it comes to selecting the best wine for your glass, you’re probably asking a few questions about the Old World/New World options. What is the difference between Old World and New World wines? Is one really better than the other? Let’s find out once and for all, shall we? In this post, we’ll show you more about where these worlds of wine are found on the map, how the wine from each world is different, the winemaking philosophies behind each, and whether one world is superior to the other. 

Where Is the Old World and New World?

Perhaps the most obvious difference between Old World and New World wines is where they are produced. The Old World designation refers to countries in Europe where modern winemaking techniques originated. These countries include France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Croatia, and England — all of which have had a major influence on the rest of the winemaking countries in the world. 

On the other hand, New World refers to all other countries outside of Europe that make wine. For the most part, these countries were colonized by the Old World winemaking countries, which may explain the winemaking lineage. Some of the major players on the New World wine stage include the United States, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and China. 

Where is the Old World and New World?

Although the term “Old World” suggests that these countries were the first to produce wine, this isn’t always the case. Wine can be traced back to the Ancient World in far Eastern Europe, where the first wine grapes were grown in the Caucasus Mountains. Many ancient winemakers also hailed from regions that make up modern-day countries, such as Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Georgia, Israel, Iran, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Cyprus, and Greece. The winemaking techniques originally used in this region were a far cry from the modern production methods that we know today, but without them, we may not know wine at all. So cheers to the world’s original winemakers! 

Viticulture and Winemaking 

Generally, Old World winemakers place tremendous emphasis on terroir – a French word used to describe the environmental factors that affect crops. These vintners believe that where a grape is grown has a powerful influence on the wine it produces. Conversely, New World winemakers emphasize the science and techniques used to make the wine. Interestingly, these differences can be seen on the labels of Old and New World wines. 

New World wines are often labeled by varietal (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.), while Old World wines are commonly labeled by the region or place where the wine was produced. The Old World way of thinking believes that place, or terroir, plays a larger role in the flavor of the wine than the varietal itself. 

Because vineyards in the Old World are so … well, old, many of them were planted before machinery was used to harvest grapes. This resulted in the vines being planted closer together than in New World vineyards. The New World vineyards were planted with modern harvesting technology in mind, so leaving more room between vines was essential. 

New World vs Old World Winemaking

In addition to environmental considerations, Old World wines rely heavily on tradition in their winemaking. This tradition is so deeply entrenched in Old World countries that it can be seen in government regulations that place stringent rules on wines. Some of these regulations include French Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC), Italian Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC), Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO), and Portuguese Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) laws. 

New World wines are not beholden to strict, government-regulated rules for their techniques. As a result, there is more experimentation in the New World, and these winemakers tend to take advantage of modern advances in wine production. 

Do Old World and New World Wines Taste Different?

There are a few flavor characteristics that are typically noticed between Old World and New World wines. Old World wines were traditionally made in smaller batches to accompany individual meals. Therefore, these wines usually feature a lighter body, lower alcohol content, higher acidity, and mineral-forward flavors that are less fruity. This more subtle flavor profile is often called “elegant,” while others may refer to it as “tight.” Whatever your word preference, these wines usually offer a delightful acidity that goes well with a wide variety of food pairings.

New World wines have bolder flavor profiles that stand alone, providing a well-balanced sipping experience without the need for food. They are made for consumer palates, and the immediate flavor can be a little overwhelming for wine lovers used to the flavor profile of Old World wines. That’s not to say that New World wines are not food-friendly, but it’s important to remember that bold flavors such as a California Cabernet Sauvignon may overpower a dish with more delicate flavors, such as fish or chicken. 

Do Old World and New World Wines Taste Different?

Some of this difference in taste also comes down to the regional conditions of where the grapes are grown. Old World countries have colder climates than the New World, so the grapes often do not ripen as completely or as quickly, resulting in wines with less sugar, lighter body, and lower alcohol content. New World grapes enjoy warmer climates, so they ripen faster, producing bolder wines with higher alcohol content, fuller body, and a slightly sweeter flavor

Old World vs. New World: A Head-to-Head Comparison

While Old and New World wines both have unique qualities and neither is necessarily better than the other, it might be helpful to consider a single varietal for a clear comparison. Let’s look at Malbec.

Malbec is a wine that originated in France and is primarily used for blending in the Bordeaux region. French Malbecs (Old World) have a tart, savory flavor with a lighter body, making them ideal for wine blends. However, Malbec produced in Argentina (New World) offers a much different flavor profile. Argentina Malbecs are spicy, savory, full-bodied, and have higher alcohol content. They usually feature rich, fruity flavors with notes of coffee, leather, and black pepper — a far cry from the French version. If you want to taste the differences between Old World and New World, Malbecs are a perfect place to start! 

Malbec Comparison: Old World vs New World
Whether you can’t get enough of an Old World Bordeaux or you stand firmly with New World Sauvignon Blanc, one thing is sure: both worlds have some pretty incredible wine to offer. Wine made the traditional way is consistently excellent, but it can also be fun to experiment and bend the rules a little. Do you have a favorite “world” of wine? There’s only one way to find out. Get out there and try them for yourself!

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

$20.99

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

$19.99

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

$25.99

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

$21.99

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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