Who initially coined the phrase "New World wine"?

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,

Who initially coined the phrase “New World wine”?

—J.R., Texas

Dear J.R.,

Amerigo Vespucci? Seriously, the term “New World” (or “Mundus Novus,” as the Latin kids call it) was first used by the Italian explorer and his contemporaries in the late 1400s and early 1500s. Since then, the terms “Old World” and “New World” have been used as a way to give context to differences found between the Old World (Europe, Africa and Asia) and everywhere else, particularly when it comes to crops and animals. Lentils are an Old World crop; llamas are a New World animal.

Wine has been produced in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the industrialization of wine—and subsequent exporting—that the use of the terms “New World wine” and “Old World wine” really started to take off.

As I’ve written before, the terms started off as a way to not only describe the origin of a wine, but also to indicate a style based on climate expectations—namely, that New World wines were typically grown in warmer climates, with riper flavors. But these days, the terms are more muddied than ever, with a more diverse set of regions, winemakers, methods and changing climates that makes these words more and more confusing. The rule of thumb held by Thomas Matthews, our executive editor, is that Old World wine regions grow mostly indigenous grapes, while New World regions rely mostly on imported grapes. This puts Greece, for example, into the Old World, but Israel into the New World, counterintuitive as that may seem.

—Dr. Vinny

How to Taste Tasting Descriptors Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it true that you can clean a red wine stain with white wine? What's the best way to clean a wine stain?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers some tried and true methods and advice for …

Jun 17, 2019

How long will an unopened bottle of Champagne stay good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how sparkling wine ages.

Jun 14, 2019

Are sulfites added to wines for shipping?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sulfites come from, and why wines often …

Jun 12, 2019

When is the best time to drink Port?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which types of Ports are best served after a …

Jun 10, 2019

Is a 93-point wine from a good vintage the same quality as a 93-point wine from a poor vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how vintage is and is not considered when rating …

Jun 7, 2019

What is a wine’s "style"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the broad styles, or types, of wine, and what it …

Jun 5, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search