Old World vs. New World Wine — What’s The Difference?

Like many wine terms, “Old World” and “New World” get thrown around quite a bit without truly understanding the meaning. Wine terminology can be nuanced and confusing for any level of wine enthusiast. Understanding the differences will give you more understanding into your next bottle. What is the difference between Old World and New World wine? Find out now.

Why Are Old World and New World Wines Made Differently?

Put simply, Old World wine is from Europe (ie. France, Italy, Germany, etc) and New World wine is from everywhere else. Easy enough, but the difference in winemaking styles and flavors may differ between the two worlds. For example, Old World wines tend to be made in a traditional style, with an emphasis on terroir. Terroir is a French term that Winemakers use to describe all of the environmental factors that influence the grape growing (soil, climate, weather, etc). Old World wines are often associated with low to medium alcohol (10-13% abv), are clean and crisp, and exhibit earthy flavors. Winemakers in the Old World may adopt a more hands-off approach to winemaking. 

New World wines tend to have a more modern approach, with an emphasis on modern winemaking technology and an intervening winemaker. Often, New World wines are thought to be from hot climate winemaking regions (ie. California, Argentina, Australia, etc) and will result in high alcohol (>14%), are full-bodied and have ripe fruity flavors. Winemakers in the New World may utilize modern approaches to winemaking in the cellar and how the wine is packaged.  

Neither wine is superior to the other. Old World wines use hundreds of years of winemaking traditions to create classic wines. New World wines are less restricted and give the Winemaker room for creativity, artistry and innovation, often producing wines with unique characters and flavors from year to year.

Should You Try Old World or New World Wines?

Which type of wine is right for you? If you’re looking for something steeped in tradition and classic, Old World wine is likely a great choice. If you’re looking for something with more innovation, then New World wine could be the way to go. We encourage you to keep this information in mind when choosing your next bottle, but definitely do not limit yourself to one category. Both types of wine present a wide variety of flavors. Building your wine terminology is about having a better understanding of the craft and honing in on your preferences, but to never stop experiencing.

Find Your New Favorite Wine in PA

Why explore wine in Pennsylvania? Pennsylvania is a frontier winemaking area that combines the winemaking traditions of the Old World and the modern techniques of the New World. Wines that are grown and produced in Pennsylvania tend to have a similar tasting profile to Old World wines – low to medium alcohol (10-13% abv) and a freshness on the palate. This is due to the unique climate of the state that is comparable to the climate of many Old World wine regions. When visiting your local PA winery, you’ll see modern technology like stainless steel tanks, pumps, and bottling lines. 

If you’re visiting our state, you’re never more than one hour away from a local winery or vineyard. We’ve put together trails that are not based on seeing every winery in an area, but rather about forming a richly textured experience. You’ll not only sample a wide variety of flavors, but you’ll enjoy them amongst some of Pennsylvania’s finest scenery. You’ll trek through vineyards, converse with the Winemakers, observe flavors you’ve never noticed before, and enjoy a Pennsylvania sunset over lush, green fields. Maybe your wine trail experience will be an intimate weekend with your partner, or a celebratory evening with friends. Pennsylvania’s Wine Land is what you decide to make it. Plan your trip today.

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