Old World vs New World wines: a comparison

New world wines

Old World and New World Wines - A Comparison

Author: Jack Grey

You may already have heard of the phrases Old World Wine and New World Wine. In this blog, I will aim to give you a good grasp of these different sectors. We will look at two ways to define them, followed by showing how they can help you in your wine choices, and finishing off with an interesting experiment to try out at home (no test tube or scientific know-how required).


In order to define these two titles we can first look into their Geography. In general, Old World refers to European wines. So if you pick up, for example, a Spanish Rioja, an Italian Primitivo, or a French Bordeaux, you can class this under the Old World wine banner.

Do not forget, that the UK is also Old World: something to remember when you’re sipping a Pinot Noir, Meunier, and/or Chardonnay based English Sparkling Wine.

On the other hand, New World generally signifies wine growing regions outside Europe. Examples here would include; California, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, and Chile to name but a few. These have their own famous wines such as Argentinian Malbec and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. From this you may already be able to see whether you lean towards one or the other of these camps. Of course, no one is saying that you can’t like both!


Aside from by geography, it is also possible to distinguish New World and Old World wines in a general sense, by looking into their styles. For example, an Old World wine would often be expected to have a lighter body, lower alcohol levels, and less ripe fruit. New World wines in comparison would be generally deemed to have fuller bodies, higher alcohol content, and be fruitier.

So how does this help you?

From these two points, we are able to see some useful distinctions. As a consumer, you can use these differences to inform you in your wine choices. For example, if you know that you prefer big, fruity reds, then it would be a wise choice to try options from California, Australia and other New World regions. If you prefer more delicate white wines then it would be a sage suggestion to look to countries in the Old World such as France.

Exciting Experiments

You can also spice things up a bit with some wine experiments! A good one is to compare a Syrah from the French Rhône up against an Aussie Shiraz (the same grape but the first grown in an Old World Region, and the second in the New World). This is one of my favourite match-ups, and I am sure you will notice quite a clear difference between the two.

What have we learnt?

Having read through this feature, you will now be able to place most wines that you come across into either the Old World or the New World category. This will help you not only in your understanding of what you are drinking, but also in your wine choices.

There are too, lots of experiments like the Syrah/Shiraz comparison to be done. Let us know, in the comments, of any interesting match-ups that you try so we can all give them a go. Don’t stop tasting!

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