It is not uncommon to hear a “knowledgeable” wine consumer make the blanket statement: “I don’t like New World wines.” Why would someone say something so strange and potentially pompous? If you hear this from someone, you should know that he or she is making a comment on the style of wine made in certain regions of the world.
New World wines are ones which come from relatively new winemaking regions, places like America, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina. Wines from these regions all have a certain distinguishable style about them. They generally are bold expressions of the grape used to produce the wines—the flavors tend to attack the front part of the palate and seem more “fruit-forward” or “stronger” than other wines. Many times, wines from New World regions are higher in alcohol content than wines from other growing regions. Finally, New World wines tend to be produced by winemakers who use grapes and modern techniques to convey a personal style of winemaking.
Old World wines, as the term suggests, come from older, more established wine-growing regions like France, Italy, Spain, and Germany. Old World wines tend to express elements of the uniqueness of their soils and growing seasons—instead of the winemaker’s personal style of winemaking.
An example of this would be wines from the Burgundy region in France. Red Burgundy is made from only one grape, Pinot Noir. Winemakers from Burgundy don’t feel that they are making Pinot Noir wines. Rather, Pinot Noir is their vehicle for making wines that communicate what their grapes encountered during their growing cycle. It’s all about where the grapes come from, not the will a winemaker may impose upon them. Because of this, Old World wine labels don’t list the grapes on their wine labels. Instead, they list the regions where the grapes were grown.
In the New World vs. Old World debate, it’s is all about where the grape was grown—not what a winemaker has done with it after the harvest. The best part of the debate? In order to determine which side you’re on, you’re going to have to drink a lot of different wines from all over the world—not a bad thing!
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