What's the difference between New World and Old World wines?

Ask Dr Vinny

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,

By looking at a wine, how can you tell if it is New World or Old World?

—Rochelle B., San Jose, Calif.

Dear Rochelle,

Well, there's an easy answer to this question and a more complicated one. The easy answer is about geography. Old World wines are from Europe, and New World wines are from everywhere else—the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. That should be pretty obvious on the label.

The more complicated answer is that "Old World" and "New World" have come to denote differences in style. Old World wines tend to be more subtle, and New World wines tend to be bolder and more fruit-centered. So, there are Old World wines made in New World regions these days, and vice versa. Some people think of Old World wines as being "traditional" and New World wines as "modern." And it's unlikely you'd be able to tell the difference just by looking at the bottle. For that, you'd need advice, whether it be from our editors' tasting notes, from a retailer you trust, or from a knowledgable friend. Or you could just take the plunge, try the wine, and decide for yourself.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Why do we pair white wine with fish and red wine with red meat?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tips on making a food and wine match sing.

Aug 19, 2019

How can I preserve an intentionally wine-stained shirt?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the pros and cons of using red wine as a fabric …

Aug 16, 2019

What exactly does it mean that a wine can express "terroir"? Is it a smell? A taste?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the elusive concept and expression of terroir.

Aug 14, 2019

What is the ideal "total acidity" for Cabernet Sauvignon?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains total acidity, and how it interacts with other …

Aug 12, 2019

Are some wines better-suited to being canned than others?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which wine styles have been most successful in …

Aug 9, 2019

How can a wine taste like fruits other than grapes?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how all those complex flavors and aromas get …

Aug 7, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search