Old World wine refers primarily to wine made in Europe but can also include other regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking such as North Africa and the Near East. The phrase is often used in contrast to New World wine which refers primarily to wines from New World wine regions such as the United States, Australia, South America and South Africa.
The terminology is used to describe general differences in viticulture and winemaking philosophies between the Old World regions where tradition and the role of terroir lead versus the New World where science and the role of the winemaker are more often emphasized.
In recent times, the globalization of wine and advent of flying winemakers have lessened the distinction between the two terms with winemakers in one region being able to produce wines that can display the traits of the other region—i.e. an "Old World style" wine being produced in a New World wine region like California or Chile, and vice versa.
Do Old World wines taste different than New World wines? Yes, they often do. The differences in Old World and New World wines come from winemaking practices (tradition) and from the effect of the land and climate on the grapes (the “terroir”).
- Old World wines are often described as tasting lighter, having less alcohol, having higher acidity, and tasting less fruity
- New World wines are often described as tasting riper, having higher alcohol, having less acidity, and tasting fruitier