What’s the difference between New World and Old World wines ?
This is a question that I am frequently asked in a tasting setting. And it can be a tough one to answer. Like many of you, I began my wine journey by exploring wines based on various grape varieties. I grew comfortable with them and came to know what to expect from Chardonnay versus Sauvignon Blanc. Then I moved to France where many of the grapes were the same but somehow became less relevant. Terroir, region, and blends are the laws of the land in the Old World.
So how do I answer this question in a quick but easy to understand manner? As a big fan of analogy, here you go:
New World wines are strippers…
…while Old World wines are burlesque dancers.
Um, I’m sorry, but what?!
Think about it for a second. New World wines are often bold, in-your-face, easy-to-understand and easily identifiable styles. These are often the kinds of wines you can sip with or without food. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you don’t want to over-think it and just want to get on with the enjoyment.
Old World wines on the contrary often take a little longer to reveal themselves. They may require longer cellaring, an appropriate food match, or more time in a decanter before they are willing to unveil their secrets. Again, there’s nothing wrong here either. Sometimes the greatest pleasure comes from taking a little extra time and having a bit more patience.
OK, so it’s a gross over-generalization but it often holds true. There’s a time and a place for everything so no judgment. And if nothing else, I bet you’ll be able to answer the question in case someone asks it of you.