New World vs. Old World Wines — Part 1

New World vs. Old World Wines — Part 1

One of the things I like best when learning about the wine world is that you can divide it into two halves in so many ways.  There are red wines and white wines, still and sparkling, Old World and New World.

But what does that last designation mean, exactly?  The Old World consists of countries in the…well, old world:  France, Spain, Italy, and Germany, plus one or two others.  The New World is pretty much everywhere else:  North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Let’s look at a few of the most important differences.  First, in the Old World, there are winemaking traditions that go back hundreds, even thousands, of years.  Certain places can grow only specific grapes.  The Bordeaux blend, for example, is limited to just five grape varieties, and it’s illegal to use any others.  In Burgundy, they’re allowed to grow only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, period.  There are organizations set up that decide whether a particular wine meets certain standards, and actual laws about what winemakers can and cannot do.

In the New World, it’s all up for grabs.  There are no traditions that winemakers must follow and not all that many laws, either.  Here, we’re free to grow any grape anywhere, and blend in whatever we want.  That makes for some interesting, if unexpected, flavors and sensations.

The main difference (among many) is that in the Old World, the important issue is where the wine comes from, and in the New World it’s what grapes are used.  For example, you can have a French wine that says “Sancerre” on the label.  Well, that’s the name of the village and the area around it, but the wine in the bottle is Sauvignon Blanc.

In the New World, they put the name of the grape right on the bottle, along with the place where it’s from.  So, our Squeeze Malbec (name of grape) will say “Mendoza” (name of region in Argentina) on the label.

There are other important differences, and we’ll cover them in Part 2. stay tuned!

If there’s anything I can do to help, or any wine questions I can answer, email me at winewhisperer@directcellars.com.  Here’s to you!

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