Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Can you help me differentiate between New World and Old World wines?
—Devendra K., Mumbai, India
The most basic difference between Old World and New World wines is geographic: "Old World" refers to the traditional winegrowing regions of Europe, while "New World" refers to everything else.
These distinctions can also refer to differences in style. The climates of New World wine regions are often warmer, which tends to result in riper, more alcoholic, full-bodied and fruit-centered wines. These wines are often made in a more highly extracted and oak-influenced style. Old World wines tend to be lighter-bodied, exhibiting more herb, earth, mineral and floral components. While these are gross generalizations, that's how these terms are commonly used.
These days, the terms "Old World" and "New World" can take on even broader connotations and spark debates among wine lovers, usually about tradition vs. modernization. "Old World" implies tradition, history, and an "if it's not broke, don't fix it" mentality, while the term "New World" invokes technology, science, corporations and marketing.