Feliz Friday, chicas y chicos! The weekend is here, and it’s time for a whirlwind tour of the “Old World” and “New World” of wine. Yes, right now. It’ll only take five minutes. Fasten your seat belts, make sure your tray tables are locked and your seat is in the upright position, ¡y vámonos!
Simply stated, Old World refers to a wine from southern or central Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria and other Mediterranean regions). The New World covers wines made in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
You’re probably wondering why this matters, right? The short answer is that an Old World Chardonnay (made in France, for example) is going to taste a lot different from a New World Chardonnay made in California. Here’s why:
Old World winemaking relies on traditions that have been around for centuries, while New World winemakers tend to use modern science and technology, giving them a little more control over how the wine will taste.
Think of terroir as the environmental factors (climate, soil, rainfall) that give a wine some of its characteristics. For instance, grapes grown in hot climates ripen more easily and have a higher sugar content, so those wines will have more alcohol (remember that sugar is needed for fermentation, the magical process that turns grape juice into wine). Wine made from grapes grown in cooler regions tends to have less alcohol and will be more acidic.
Okay, got all that? If not, all you need to remember is this:
Old World wines generally…
- Are higher in acidity
-Taste more “minerally”
-Have fewer fruity aromas or flavors
-Tend to age better
New World wines generally…
-Taste more fruity
- Have less acidity
-Are higher in alcohol (because the grapes have more sugar)
- Tend to be less diverse (“international” grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Merlot and others are used more in New World winemaking than lesser-known grapes like Müller-Thurgau, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Cinsault)
How can you tell which style you like best? If you’re a fan of black cherry flavors in your Cabernet Sauvignon, go for a New World option from California, Chile or Australia. If you like your Cab with a touch less alcohol and a little more acidity, an Old World wine from France’s Bordeaux region is a fine choice.
We’re going to hit a little turbulence now, so hold on to your wine glasses. The lines between the Old and New Worlds are beginning to shift as younger winemakers in Europe experiment with New World techniques. My philosophy: Explore both worlds and let your tastebuds be your guide.
Salud, and thank you for flying Señorita Vino!