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OPINION

Old and New World

Traditionally the Old World comprised of products from Europe and the New World was everything else

Friday, 2 February 2024, 10:51

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Some wine lovers' toes curl when the conversation turns to two categories of wines that have become almost standard: Old World and New World. Why? Because the description tells us nothing about the wines themselves, except perhaps a lurking suspicion that since we were brought up on Old World wines, we prefer to give the New World a wide berth.

Traditionally the Old World comprised of products from Europe and the New World was everything else. The past tense implies there have been changes, and indeed, those who are responsible for making the rules have decreed that the distinction should no longer be maintained.

As is very often the case, the proposed recategorising comes from the US, where recently the US Court of Master Sommeliers has questioned the distinction, highlighting the geographic, historical, and regulatory significance of these terms with other categories suppressed.

The New World originally encompassed former British, Spanish, and Dutch colonies in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, while the Old World referred to Europe, specifically Roman Empire wine-producing regions. However, with the introduction of wines from Georgia, China, and India the worlds have been turned on their axis.

WINE OF THE WEEK

WINE OF THE WEEK
  • Jean Leon Reserva 2013 The story of how a New York taxi driver of French descent came to have a wine named after him has been told many times, adding to the legend. This organic Reserva from Penedés, has a deep red colour and a complex nose of mature fruit. Around 24 euros.

Concepts of Old and New World wines are rooted in historical and geographical contexts. The terms are not rigid and are often used to describe stylistic differences, winemaking techniques, and grape varieties associated with each region. In fact, it was probably a pointless distinction from day one.

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