What’s the difference between Old World and New World Wines?

The simplest way to explain the difference between the two is that old world wines are made with tradition and come from Europe, whereas new world wines come from the rest of the non-European world and are categorized by the specific type of grape used to make the wine – unless the wine is a blend of different types (then it’s called a blend).

That might not be entirely clear, so let’s dig in a bit more…


What does old world and new world mean?

What are old world countries? What are new world countries?

By definition, “Old World” refers to Africa, Asia, and Europe. “New World” refers to the Americas, including North America, Central America, and South America. However, when it comes to wine, the countries are classified a little differently:


What are Old World Wines?

Old World Wines are wines that come from the “original” wine-producing regions and countries of Europe.


The Top 5 Old World Wine Countries are: Italy, France, Spain Germany & Portugal

Old World Wine producers focus more on the sub-regions where the grapes are grown, and on traditional methods used to make wine. You may find multiple names for the Chardonnay grape produced in France depending on the producer, the region, and the style of the wine. “Old World” countries have strict rules and regulations to follow when growing grapes and making wine, and many wine labels carry clues as to what’s in the wine, where it was made, and its quality.


What are old world wine countries?

The old world wine countries are Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.


Quick Facts on Old World Wines

  • Wine production style is driven by ‘terroir’ and structure.
  • Aromas and flavours are terroir-driven (earthy, mineral) and floral profiles, support by fruit characteristics.
  • A strict set of rules regarding what can be planted, the density of plants, training and pruning of the plants, ripeness, yield, winemaking techniques, and use of oak.
  • The tradition almost always trumps technology although modern style producers are utilizing the resources available to them.



What are New World Wines?

New World wines come from regions outside of Europe.


The Top 5 New World Wine Countries are: United States, China, Argentina, Chile, and Australia

If you’re from the “New World” wine names seem pretty easy to understand. You’ll usually see on the label the words “Chardonnay” or “Pinot Noir.” That is because by design New World Wines use a naming convention that specifically refers to the grape variety used in the wine. While the region or area where the grapes are grown is secondary. New world wines are generally recognized by the grape variety first, and the region or producer is often less important.

That said, there is a trend toward regional identity in the New World with the recognition of Geographical Indications (GIs) and American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and the creation of more sub-regions. Furthermore, winemakers and producers are gaining a reputation as the New World wine industry ages and these wineries become more established.


What are new world wine countries?

The countries that are considered “new world wine countries” are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, United States, Uruguay.


Quick Facts on New World Wines

  • Grape Variety is most important with a trend toward terroir and sub-GI recognition
  • Aromas and flavours are fruit-driven, supported by secondary characteristics coming from terroirs like earth and mineral.
  • Regulations about yields, grape varieties and production techniques are not nearly as strict as in Old World regions.


More about Old World vs. New World Wines

Old World vs New World: What in the World Does That Mean?


Discovering Wine for the first time? You may also like…

Introduction to Wine

Beginner’s Guide to Wine – Beyond White & Red
Intermediate Wine Guide – Aroma & Taste
Advanced Wine Guide – Acidity, Tannins & Finish

Red Varietals – Wine Basics

About Pinot Noir
Petit Verdot
Syrah (aka Shiraz)
Petite Sirah (aka Durif)

White Varietals – Wine Basics

Muscat Ottonel
Muscat Blanc (Moscato d’Asti)
Chenin Blanc