Old World vs New World Wine Guide

21st July 2022

Old World and New World Wines

In the world of Wine & Sparkling Wine, you may have heard someone mention Old World and New World and although you might have some understanding of what it is, there’s probably something you didn’t know, so let’s explore all today in this article on Glass of Bubbly!

For those who have no idea what either of the terms means and just want a simple explanation, here it is.

The two terms differentiate countries, Old World means Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, because of their vast winemaking history dating back thousands of years. New World refers to countries that were colonised, like North & South America, Australia and New Zealand, having wine and vines brought over in the likes of the 16th and 17th centuries.

There is much more to discover, so keep on reading to become fascinated with the world of wine!

Old World

The countries included in Old World Winemaking are the following:

  • France
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • England
  • Portugal
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Croatia
  • Georgia
  • Slovenia
  • Moldova
  • Hungary
  • Greece
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Romania
  • Poland
  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • Turkey
  • Morocco
  • China
  • Sweden
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Denmark

And most definitely more, it would be much easier if I could tell you everything in Europe, Asia and Africa was old world, but I can’t.

When we go over to Asia, China is definitely Old World, because they’ve been making wine for over 3,000 years, but for some reason, the likes of India are considered New World, despite it being claimed that India was actually making wine as far back as the Bronze Age, or at the very least, since the 4th century BC, it just became widespread during the 19th century under British rule.

In Africa, the North and East of Africa is marked as Old World, but not the South.

An Old World country is said to rely upon two important things, the first is the terroir, this is of course important to all wineries, but according to Old World, they try to capture the essence of it inside the bottle, so the climates, landscape, soil, weather and everything in between, trying to deliver you a sense of where it originated.

The second is Tradition, some wineries date back hundreds of years and still work on the same, if not slightly adapted traditions that their forefathers started all those years ago.

New World

The World Famous Tank Method - Stainless Steel Tanks - Wine Unfiltered

Now for the New World countries, those that have a younger history of Winemaking that started during the Age of Discovery.

  • America
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Peru
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay
  • Bolivia
  • Paraguay
  • Venezuela
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • South Africa
  • India
  • Japan

More or less the entirety of America, if a South American country produces wine, then it’s New World, and if we travel down under, we still find out selves in the New World, along with a trip up to some of Asia, including the stunningly beautiful Japan.

When it comes to how the New World makes its Wines and Sparkling Wine, it’s said to be more focused on the Winemaker and Science. (Not like the winemaker isn’t as vital as in the Old World).

They say the New World, places a lot more emphasis on the Winemaker and what they can bring to the table, helping develop the wine, drawing out the flavours inside, like a sculpture, sculpting the perfect display of characters, deciding which will be bold and which will be subtle.

The advancement of Science comes into play in the New World, with new scientific advances with the likes of adding enzymes as an additive. They are more open to experimenting with grapes, fermentation, vines, vineyards and more.

When it comes down to the fine details of each Old World and New World, a lot of it crosses over, the only thing that stays true is which country is in which column. The date the winery was opened doesn’t matter, nor does the way you produce your wines, it’s all down to the country.

Common Misconceptions & Questions Answered

Bolney Wine Estate - Grape Harvest

Harvest – How Do They Pick Their Grapes?

When you think of the different ways both Old World and New World pick their grapes, you might think Old Wolrd does it by hand, with horses and carts and New World does it by Tractors and Machines, you would be forgiven for thinking that’s what it was, you will probably find more Old World Wineries pick grapes by hand, but Tractors and Machines are definitely in Old World countries doing their part as well.

The line has been getting rather blurred throughout the years, there is no real Old World and New World way to pick grapes, it is all down to choice and the limitations of the terroir the vines were planted on. Sloped Vineyards are sometimes required to be picked by hand, as tractors can’t handle the angle of the slop, other times wineries choose to pick by hand, as they want only the best quality from their harvest.

Feet Pressing

It is definitely a technique that originated in the Old World, with it dating back between 1600–1100 BC, but in today’s world, it is rarely used and if it is, normally as a novelty, as a marketing edge or for their customers to take part in the process.

Wood For Old, Steel For New

The fermentation and ageing process can take place in either a wood barrel or stainless steel tank, a lot of Old World Wineries will still use wooden barrels, that’s if they’re Traditional Method, but you’ll definitely find your share of stainless steel tanks around the Old World, especially Italy, with its incredible display of Prosecco’s using the Charmat Method, which is also known as Tank Method.

Likewise, with the New World, it’s more down to the preference of the Winery on whether they use wood or steel.

Do They Taste Different?

If we’re being honest, it very much depends on the Winery, the method, the grape variety and the Winemaker, these things determine what characters your Sparkling Wine or Wine will exhibit, but there is a description that is mentioned when comparing the two worlds on flavours.

Old World is said to be less fruity, more minerals, lighter body, higher acidity and lower alcohol. With New World being more fruity, fuller body, lower acidity and high alcohol.

Does A Winery Have To Be Old To Be An Old World Wine?

No, as mentioned at the beginning, years of history need to be behind the country for it to be marked as Old World, but if you decide to open a winery tomorrow in France, an Old World country, you’ll still be part of the Old World even though you’re a new winery.


Information Credit: Old WorldNew World

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.