terroir, (or somewhereness) of the wine is the first
factor in determining a stylistic difference between the
old and new world wines. The second is climate.
In the old world, fruit is
subjected to higher levels of humidity, rain, clouds and
an earlier end to the growing season. Growers must pick
the fruit earlier and this will lend a more acidic quality
to the wine. Traditional old world product can mimic
elements of mushroom, leather, minerals and even tobacco.
These are all metaphors, of course, wines do not contain
leather or tobacco!
In the new world, the days
are sunnier and the season longer. Grapes are left on the
vine longer and this allows them to further ripen
producing higher sugar levels. The fruit is, well,
fruitier and the wines therefore become more full bodied
with higher alcohol contents. New world wines contain”
jammy” or fruity elements. Black cherry, plum and
Often the same varietal in
both new and old world wines will reflect a vastly
different alcohol content. A French Cabernet might offer
an alcohol content of 12.5%, but the same Cabernet from
Australia might be a whopping 14.5% alcohol content. This
factor is directly related to the climate, sunshine,
humidity and rain.
Also, check the label. Old
world wines are named for the region they are produced in
rather than the grape. For example, Bordeaux wines are
strictly produced in the Bordeaux region of France. In
California, a wine could be produced in Sonoma but it will
be named for the fruit, for example a Pinot Noir.
In choosing between old and
new world wines, your concern should not necessarily be
new or old or even region, but whether the wine is
suitable for your needs and the pairing of foods as well
as events. All of them can be good.