New and Old World Wine Categories

The renowned author Micelle Williams wrote: “New World style wines tend to be more fruit forward, juicy and delicious whereas Old World style wines tend to be more earthy, complex and thought-provoking.” In this article, we describe the classical wine categories. Here goes:

Categories of Wines

Depending upon the region and country of origin, the wines are widely categorized into two broad categories, namely, New World wines and Old World wines. They are discussed in the following subsections:

New World Wines

Primarily, the New World Wines are manufactured in the wine regions of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United States.   All these countries are situated outside Europe and the Middle East – the home to traditional wine-growing regions of the world. Hence, New World wines are also known as non-Europe wines. Currently, Europe is home to all the classical wine-growing areas of the world – producing more than 60% of global wines[1].

Many New World Wines have been produced for hundreds of years, but they still have a relatively shorter history than Old World wines. 2. The homes to these wines are the countries that were taken over, conquered and colonized by European imperial powers from the 16th century onwards. The history of these wines includes the age of new empires, discovery, and massive ships carrying firm men and women traveling to colonized nations to start new lives overseas[2].

The New World wine is not just related to the geography of their wine-growing regions but also the specific attitude toward winemaking. However, some traditional European vintners have adopted the liberal values of New World wines. On the other hand, some winemakers in Napa Valley of California have devoted themselves to Old World traditionalists2. The New World wines have some very distinct features that have been elaborated in the following2:

  1. Innovation: The New World winemakers had the liberty to try different experiments to produce multiple variants. Thus, they are characterized by their innovative styles and tastes.
  2. Naming Convention: These wines are named after grape varieties utilized to produce them.
  • Fruit Expression: The expression of the fruit is the primary winemaking goal in New World wines. Hence, the consumers find unique tastes of fruits in these wines.
  1. Flavorful & Fruity: New World Wines are flavorful and fruity, as the vintners aim to manifest their wines’ flavors.
  2. Broader Regions: New World Grape-growing regions are comprehensive and flexible. For instance, Napa Valley in California is one of the world’s largest wine-growing regions.
  3. Scientific Methods: New World Wine-making utilizes scientific methods in its production.
  • Controlled Processing: New World Wine-making processes are controlled.
  • Credit: In the case of New World winemaking, the vintners usually get their due credit for the wine they produce.

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Old World Wines

As mentioned above, Old World Wines are the wines produced by the traditional winegrowing regions of Europe and the Middle East, such as France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Portugal1. These countries are generally considered the birthplace of wine itself3. According to some studies, these countries have a long wine history from around 50 BC[3]. There are some characteristics of Old World wines that have been elaborated as follows2:

  1. Tradition: Old World winemaking involves a strong following of traditional winemaking processes.
  2. Naming Convention: These wines are named after their region of production. For instance, most French wines are named after their regions.
  • Significance of Terroir: The expression of the terroir (the particular place where the grapes grow, with its unique climatic, soil, and other growing conditions) is the primary winemaking goal.
  1. Less Fruity: Old World Wines have subtle and less fruity flavors.
  2. Smaller & Fixed Regions: Old World Grape-growing regions are relatively small, fixed, and settled for centuries.
  3. The resemblance with Artwork: Due to their classical tastes and traditions, the Old World Wine-making process resembles art.
  • Less Intervention: Intervention in winemaking is avoided as much as possible in Old World wines. Thus, these wines are not characterized by innovative methods.
  • Credit goes to Vineyard: Since the vineyards producing these wines are centuries old, so the credit usually goes to the vineyard instead of the vintners.

Also read: California wines were introduced to the world’s notice by a significant event

On this Day

50 BC: Some of the Old World winemaking traditions date back to 50 BC in the European and Middle East regions.

16th century CE: New World winemaking started when the European countries started to colonize many regions of the world in the 16th century and onward.

Want to read more? Try these books!

French Wine- A History Wine- A social and cultural history of the drink that changed our lives


[1] The Southern Hemisphere Arises. [book auth.] Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan. Wine For Dummies®, 4th Edition. s.l. : Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2006.

[2] Tanner, Alex. Old World vs. New World. Good Pair Days. [Online] 2019. [Cited: 2 12, 2022.]

[3] The Long History of New World Wine. Long Now. [Online] 11 2, 2012. [Cited: 2 12, 2022.]

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