Whether you’re eager to learn more about wine or are just a casual imbiber, sooner or later you’re going to encounter our latest Wine Word(s) of the Week: “Old World” & “New World.” Knowing both the geographic meaning of these terms as well as the stylistic differences they imply will help you develop your own personal vinous tastes and discover wines that are most likely to please your palate.
Geographically speaking, the term Old World refers to the countries of Europe where winemaking essentially originated. Countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Portugal, among others, that’ve been making wine for hundreds of years fall squarely under the Old World umbrella. New World wine regions, on the other hand, are anything outside Europe. Fine winemaking in these regions only developed after the introduction of traditional Old World techniques and Vitis vinifera grape varieties (to learn more, click here). Countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and, more recently, China are all considered New World wine regions.
In addition to the geographic distinction, the terms Old World and New World also refer to the style of wine. Old World wines are considered more restrained and understated in terms of aroma, flavor, body and alcohol content relative to New World wines. This is partly because Old World wine regions have cooler climates which prevent the grapes from getting as ripe as they do in the New World. Riper grapes have more sugar which results in higher alcohol levels and fuller-bodied finished wines. Aromas and flavors of fruit are also more intense in wine made from riper fruit. So while Old World wines are generally more earthy with reserved aromas and flavors, New World wines are more fruit forward with more intense aromas and flavors.
It is important to note that both styles of wine can be balanced and delicious and neither Old World nor New World wines are “better” than the other despite what you might hear from some wine snobs out there. It’s important to do your own vinous research and taste as many wines as you can (how’s THAT for homework?) and let your own palate be your guide.
Using the Wine Word(s) in a sentence:
– “I prefer the earthiness of Old Word wines over the fruitiness of New World wines.”
– “Although this wine is from Tuscany, it’s made in a more New World style.”
– “Even though the Malbec grape is from Bordeaux, it now thrives mostly in New World wine regions such as Argentina.”
I hope you enjoyed our latest Wine Word(s) of the Week and if you have any “wine words” you’d like to learn more about, please feel free to tell me in the Comments section below. To see previous Wine Words of the Week, please click here and, as always, thanks for reading!
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This week’s Wine Word of the Week is Terroir and was suggested by Leah Yablong of West Palm Beach, FL. Thanks for the suggestion, Leah!
“Terroir” is a French term which, loosely translated, means “a sense of place.” It is used to refer to products such as cheese, meat, coffee and wine that reflect or represent qualities unique to a specific geographic location. With respect to wine, terroir refers to the intersection of grape variety, soil type, climate and winemaking technique which come together to create a wine that, theoretically, cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. The art of blind tasting is based on the concept that wines look, taste and smell a certain way depending on where they are produced. So, if a wine is said to express terroir, the wine is believed to represent where it comes from and is considered a “wine of place.”
It is important to note the concept of terroir has special significance in Old World wine regions (i.e. France, Italy, Germany) where wine has been produced since approximately the fourth century. Winemakers in these storied regions have been tasked with upholding and preserving the vinous traditions of their ancestors by relying on their wisdom, keen observations and tried and true techniques which have been passed down from generation to generation. New World wine regions (i.e. the United States, South America, Australia), on the other hand, have only been making wine since approximately the sixteenth century, often using vine cuttings and winemaking techniques from the Old World. By simple virtue of time, New World wine regions don’t yet have the experience with their geography that Old World regions do. Today, the evolution of terroir in the New World continues to be an exciting and dynamic process.
Thanks again for your suggestion, Leah, and I hope that helps! If you (yes, YOU) would like to suggest a word for our Wine Word of the Week segment, please leave it in the comment section below or on our Facebook Fan Page which you can access by clicking here. If we use your word, your name will be entered into our monthly drawing to win one month of The Wine Atelier’s “Explorateur” Wine Club but remember – you have to play to win so make your suggestion now!