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Old World Wine and New World Wine

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  • Pages: 6
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  • Category: World

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The wines are divided into two categories, the old world wine and the new world wine. When Hugh Johnson came up with his concept of these two worlds, people have started to find out the differences. Wines are beverages of gods, and people enjoy them and have their own understanding of wines. The old world wines are traditional while the new world wines are modern. In this research paper, I will tell the difference(s) between these two worlds’ wines in aspects of their natures, cultures, histories, as well as their developments today.

Keyword: new world wine, old word wine

A movie called Mondovino(2004) by Jonathan Nossiter is a documentary on the impact of the globalization on different regions in the world. By switching the lens, the director presents to the world that people who live under the same blue sky but in different places of the Earth have different understanding of wines, and those differences can even lead to fierce conflicts. If people have spent a lot time on the world of wine, they might have been aware of the differences in the wines between the new and old World because when a bottle of wine is produced, the climate, the soil, and the culture of its production place are naturally integrated into it, and only the people who understand the wine can taste the spirit of it. No matter the new world wines or the old world wine we have today, the differences reflect the origin, the development, and the evolution of the wines. In other worlds, the differences are not about competitions between old and new world wines, but the represent of the diversity of wines.

It is said that the first person to propose the concept of old and new world wine is a British wine writer named Hugh Johnson. From his literal description, he distinguished the new and old world wine from the location of the producing countries. The ancient European wine producing countries belong to the old world, and those countries includes France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece and other eastern European countries and regions. On the other hand, new world includes South Africa, the United States, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, as well as many other emerging wine producing countries. The new world wines, as the name suggests, the history of it is not very long. The old world wine means, of course, having quite a history. However, the Australian has been producing wine for over a hundred years, and it is even longer for Argentina. Therefore, the definitions of the old and new world have begun to blur, but the style of these two world’s wines does have some differences.

The geographical location and climatic conditions determine the differences in the objective conditions of the old and new worlds. Compared to the old world counties, the climate conditions of the new world countries, such as the United States, Australia, New Zealand, are relatively stable. In most of the time, there is no frost when the grapes begin to bud, no pests when the grapes are growing, and less rains when grapes are in maturity. These are the advantages of the wine industries in the new world. They can ensure the quality of their grapes, but they are lacking of the distinct changes in the wine styles that caused by the climatic factors. In the old world countries, no matter in France or Germany, there are uncertainties in the climatic conditions, which can lead to a sharp difference between good and bad years. Some rare wines do not exist every year, such as the Germany ice wines and TBA wines. The old world counties are facing climate challenges, but at the same time it lets the old world wine have more tastes and styles so that people have curious and expects every year.

Cultural developments and historical heritages have created the differences in the philosophy on winemaking between the old and new world. The old world wines are to abide by the traditions and respect traditions. From the choice of the varieties of grapes, the cultivation of grapes to various aspects of brewing, like harvesting, crushing, fermentation, blending, and aging, people still respect the traditions that have been followed for hundreds or thousands of years. For example, French people respect the spirit of Terroir. They believe the original land, soil, climate, and varieties of grapes are best represents of the wine and its culture, and the nature factors are the best to decide and embody the essence of wines. AOC system is the protection and interpretation of the traditional French winemaking philosophy. If people mix grapes from different geographical locations, it would be considered as the violation to the wine spirit and culture. If a wine used non-statutory variety of grapes, no matter how beautiful and tasty it was, it could not become the AOC level. The new world wines have more innovation and reformation in wine styles. People improve wines in the experiment. They use different varieties of grape and planting techniques, have the modern brewing philosophy and production organizations. The new world wines have really new faces, tastes, and qualities.

For the New World, there is no heavy history and heritage; there are less experience bondage and concepts constraints. The legal philosophy restrictions are almost non-existent. Therefore, in the new world wine development, people are more creative and accept the spirit of the new things. Mechanical picking machines, peeling machines, thermostatic stainless steel fermentation tanks, and screw caps are all innovations from the new world. However, so far, some of the new concepts are not accepted by some or the entire old world. For instance, the winery Wolf Blass and Black Label in Australia select good grapes from all over the world and make perfect wines. Although the wines they made are good, and often win prizes in the tasting competitions, it is still difficult for traditional old world to accept them. The old world wineries usually follow their traditional business model in a smaller scale, and they pay more attention to the traditional brewing process. The old world wines emphasize on the balance of variety of grapes and are more elegant. Although people use various varieties of grapes, they do not change them because they have been using them for generations.

The packaging and labels of old world wine focus on its region and are traditional. Moreover, every old world wine producing countries have strict statutory classification systems. In contrast, the new world wineries always have large viticulture and large size organizations, and they focus on the science, the technology and the management. The new world wines aims for modern people. It has fruit flavor, open style, as well as a single grape variety in common. The packaging and labels focus on the identification of grape varieties, and the labels are more vivid and active. At last, the new world wine producing countries usually do not have the legal classification systems, but some of them have simple classification logos, and well-known wine manufacturing locations are in general the signs of good quality. There is a certain degree of objectivity to divide the wine into two worlds and distinguish them. The difference is more about the concept of the history and culture. In every country, there are a wide variety of wines. This is the charm of wines, and only in this way, it can be called wines.


Banks, G. (2010). Old world, new world, third world? reconceptualising the worlds of wine. Journal of Wine Research, 21(1), 57-75. Old and new worlds’ wines clearly differ. (2010, May 22). Citizens’ Voice. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/577024374?accountid=10043 Ken Collura Ken Collura is wine director and sommelier at the El Monte Sagrado Resort in Taos, N. (2004). New world and old world in the context of wines. Richmond Times – Dispatch, 3. Iacopo Bernetti, McGill University, Canada, Leonardo Casini, McGill University, Canada, & Nicola Marinelli, McGill University, Canada. (2006). Wine and globalisation: Changes in the international market structure and the position of italy. British Food Journal, 108(4), 306-315.

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