Old World vs. New World Wines

I have been studying the differences between Old World and New World Wines, and I am still having some issues with picking up on the nuances of each type.

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Old World: higher acidity, low to medium alcohol, earthy, low oak, more refined oak (smelling of cedar, pine or shavings), not a lot of intensity

Countries:  Austria, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal and Greece

New World: low to medium acidity, high alcohol, little earthiness, high oak (wood will take on baking spices: vanilla, cinnamon, etc. or smell like fresh cut sawdust), more intense

Countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, United States

After practicing the art of determining Old World Wines versus New World Wines through deductive blind tastings, I am improving but I still struggle heavily with the exceptions to the rules.  Or simply picking up on the basic rules.

If anyone has any suggestions for other tell-tale signs I can look for or tips for determining such information during a blind tasting, please share in the comments!

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7 thoughts on “Old World vs. New World Wines

  1. It is hard though, especially as a lot of them are mixing things up now and it is not always easy….for reds, I think the Old World wines tend to be a bit less fruit in your face than the New World wines, but that also doesn’t hold true all the time.

    • Thanks for the tip! This probably sounds rude, but I am glad to hear that it seems to be challenging for others as well. I had my first experience with attempting deductive blind tasting this week and I was intimidated by how easy it seemed to come to others around me. Maybe they had been doing it for years, but there seemed to be so many exceptions to the rules that I had a hard time figuring it out.

      • Oh, not rude in any way. To me, blind tastings and especially deductive tastings are such a challenge. The great thing was how I learned to deal with it (and thereby accept how humiliating it can be) were the two wine friends I had them with: ManSoo and Yutaka, a Korean and a Japanese. These guys are wine MANIACS, We would have blind Mosel Riesling tastings and we would have to determine which part of the Mosel, which vineyard and which vintage! It was insane. But what I learned, and what they taught me was: As long as I give reasons for why I think it is this or that vintage, or this or that vineyard, any answer is acceptable. And that encouraged me to keep exploring and to keep voicing why I think something is what I believe it is. Be it right or wrong. It is figuring out what you know and how you can relate that to the wine…even if it might not give you the right result, but at least you had a reason for thinking that. Keep going, you’ll be fine!!

      • I appreciate your encouragement tremendously! I am of the same thought process, that as long as you have valid reasonings for your identification process, you are successful. I intend to have some fun going through this process, but I don’t have many people around me to practice with so I’m guessing this could become a very expensive education! It sounds like your learning curve for these methods was full of some interesting conversations and debates, which is the perfect situation for fostering an enjoyment of the process. Thanks!

      • Yeah, I totally agree that the environment is key. Nothing like supportive mentors and friends that help you along the way and give you the feeling that everything you say has value and helps them move along too. Because let’s face it: Wine is and remains a learning thing for all of us. Never does a bottle taste alike, never does one drinker experience a wine the same way the person sitting beside him. We need to accept that we all bring our perspectives to the table. I really hope you will find a good environment and people to take this exciting journey with you!!! If not, move over here and we will take care of that. 😉

  2. Last two posts very good. I agree that Old World uses a more refined oak, if that’s the best way of saying that oak is less influential in the end experience. Also, the earthiness is maybe more apparent. I think the main distinguishing character for me is the use of single varietals primarily in New World red wines. Old World reds are more inclined to blend and some of their key varietals are less prevalent in the New World eg. sangiovese, grenache. I think that white wines are less easily distinguished for me. But, this is all good. Nice to have a variety of wines, styles, and just fun trying to drink them all. Hopefully, winemakers are approaching their challenge as one where they want to create the best product not the same product.

    • I whole-heartedly agree that it is nice to have a variety of wines & styles and that it is simply fun to try drinking them all! I really do think that the only way I am going to get better at this is to just keep trying lots of wines and build my “memory bank” of different wines. I have yet to decide what my personal motivation is to be able to do a blind tasting, other than the obvious knowledge that is gained by being able to correctly identify wines. I do think it would be better to deduce the wrong wine for the right reasons than to identify the right wine for the wrong reasons (if that makes any sense!)

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