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The Flavor of Wine: New World vs. Old World

Mondays are "contributor days" at Second City Soiree. Our newest contributor, sommelier Mike Matonte, is happy to share his passion with casual drinkers and fellow experts alike. Follow him on Twitter @VinoMike


Hello and thanks for checking out my first post on the fabulous SecondCitySoiree.com! The world of wine is vast and diverse. That makes it fun, but it can also be overwhelming. Wine is simple, it really is! My goal with these posts is to bring that simplicity and comfort to you, and help you along the way with learning more about the greatest beverage on earth!

As a member of The Court of Master Sommeliers, one must learn to taste wines blind.  Through the sight, aroma, and taste, the sommelier must conclude the grape, region, and vintage of that wine. Before concluding exactly what the wine is, the sommelier will first determine if the wine is “Old World” or “New World.” Learning the difference between Old World and New World will greatly help you out with your selection of wines to enjoy for yourself as well as what you want to pour for your guests. The difference is...

Old World is any wine that is produced in Europe.
New World is any wine produced anywhere else on the planet. 

Here are some general characteristics about these two styles:


Old World

Europe, the motherland of wine production! Viticulture dates back for… well, a really, really, long time! The rich tradition, culture, and history makes European wines more about WHERE they come from and less about what grapes they are made from. This is what makes these regions so difficult to learn because most labels tell you only where the wine is from. We’ll touch on this in future postings. 

Alcohol Level - Lower (don’t worry, not too low and not all wines from Europe are low)
Acidity - Higher (makes them taste fresh and lively with a little bit more zing)
Fruit Flavors - More subtle (think of a dried cherry vs. a fresh cherry)
Earthy Flavors - More pronounced


New World

These are wines from the major regions of the world that are not part of Europe. Major growing regions include Chile and Argentina, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and of course the USA.  These tend to be warmer climates with excellent growing conditions.

Alcohol Level - Higher (woo-hoo!) due to higher levels of ripeness
Acidity - Lower, which can make a wine a bit softer and easy-drinking
Fruit Flavors - Ripe and fresh (Think about biting into a bunch of fresh blackberries. Now think about drinking a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet!)
Earthy Flavors - Subtle


Wines to try side-by-side

Try these pairings at your next party...what a great way to learn about taste preferences!

New World Old World
Chardonnay California France (Burgundy region)
Pinot Gris Oregon Pinot Grigio from Italy
Sauvignon Blanc New Zealand France (Loire Valley)
Riesling Washington State or Australia  
Germany or France
Pinot Noir California France (Burgundy region)
Cabernet Sauvignon  
Napa Valley France (Bordeaux region
Shiraz Australia Syrah from France (Rhone region)


Wines by Mike Matonte

Part of the Second City Soiree Monday Contributor Series. Mike is on Twitter @VinoMike. Read his full bio here.

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Reader Comments (2)

Hey Mike,

What would you say about the price point of Old vs. New World wines? Based on the table there, it would seem to me like the price point for New World is much lower. This list also makes me realize that I rarely drink Old World wines. I might have to do something about that. :)


PS I really enjoyed the article. Looking forward to next week!

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

Very informative and clearly-written article on a topic that intimidates many! Looking forward to more posts, Mike. And thank you Second City Soiree!

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