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.
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.