“Old World” wine and “New World” wine are terms you may have heard on the wine-soaked lips of your friends. As simple as this distinction may appear at first, comprehending what it means when someone says a wine is Old World or New World can be very perplexing.

Old World wines bear the name of the region in which they were made. For example, Cahors, rather than Malbec, is the name of a wine made from the Malbec grape in the Cahors region of France.

New World wines, in contrast, are named after their grape variety. For example, in Mendoza, Argentina, a wine made from the Malbec grape is known as Malbec and not Mendoza.

Traditional wine names include Burgundy, Champagne, Sherry, Port, and Hock, all of which are well-known European areas.


This used to provide customers with an indication of what their wine would taste like. This began to alter as winemakers gained confidence in their ability to create their own styles, such as Grange. European winemakers were opposed to the use of their regional names, while writers like Frank Schoonmaker in the United States advocated for the use of varietal designations like those found on Alsace wines.

One explanation was that, unlike in Europe, there was no history of specific regions becoming unanimous with specific wine styles, and winemakers could acquire grapes from a variety of sources.

Varietal labeling became popular in the 1960s and 1970s, thanks to winemakers like Robert Mondavi, and has since extended throughout the New World and in recent years has gained some traction in Europe.

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  1. “How to Read the Label |.” n.d. Accessed August 16, 2022.
  2. Thacker, Kyle. 2015. Review of French Connection: A Short Guide on French Wine Regions and Their Grapes. Uncorked. October 15, 2015.‌‌

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