Old World versus New World

The world wine market, once dominated by the Old World, experienced critical moments of change with the emergence of wines from the New World. They are delicious, fruity wines, usually produced to be drunk young, of good value for money, and that easily conquer the consumer's palate. Less tolled by the traditions and strict laws of most European producing regions, they quickly achieved a large share of the market.

A few years ago, many oenophiles went to the cinemas to watch 'Mondovino', a documentary by Jonathan Nossiter who conducted an investigation on the subject of globalization with the main character as the bottle of wine. A former sommelier of French origin, Nossiter shows in this documentary two differentiating conceptions: the traditional Old World wines (especially those of France) and the fashion wines produced in the New World.

In the world of wine, New World is the expression that designates the countries discovered by Europeans from the fifteenth century (who came to produce wine) as opposed to the Old World, Europe (producers since antiquity). In the documentary, the comparison with wines from the New World countries (United States, South America, Australia, South Africa) is cruel to French wines as it shows, between 1998 and 2003, that French exports fell by 12%. The New World 'exploded' with a progression of 161% during the same period. The wine crisis was latent, with the progressive loss of the monopoly of French winegrowers over world production and the appearance of New World wines in warmer and more regular climates. However, the market has undergone major changes in recent years and world production continues to exceed consumption capacity. It remains to be known which wines will be drinked more.

Differences between worlds

As the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild of the famous Château Mouton Rothchild once said in an interview, "Producing wine is relatively simple, only the first two hundred years are difficult". This phrase shows well the principles that guide the old world: Tradition. They are wines with history that lead the consumer to delve into the culture of the drink. New World wines, on the other hand, are more provocative, more intense and engaging, and have moved the market previously dominated by European producers.


The Old World is synonymous with tradition. Vineyards in Portugal, the Douro (above) and Italy, Tuscany (below).
The vineyards of the New World (South Africa, below) are wider and more flexible.

Today, these differences between worlds are more attenuated, not least because both in the Old World and in the New World both styles of wine are already produced, depending on what producers intend to provide for each type of consumer / market. And increasingly, consumer trends are directed towards wines where the watchword is balance and elegance, in whatever style. However, when we are learning about the wine sector, we speak their language and we want to understand the evolution that has happened to date, it is always useful to know the differences that separated them:

- The New World is synonymous with innovation and the Old World of tradition.

- In the New World the wines are called by the grape variety and in the Old World the name of the production region is evidenced.

- New World wines are designed for immediate consumption and old world wines to store.

- In the New World the aim of the producer is the expression of the fruit, while in the Old World the objective is the expression of the terroir, the specific place where the grapes grow, which gives it unique characteristics.

- In the New World the wine regions are vast and flexible, in the Old World these regions are small and fixed.

- In the New World, viticulture is seen as a science. In the Old World is considered an art.

- In the New World there is a great investment in technology, in the Old World we respect the traditional production methods more.

- In the New World the merit in wine production goes to the manufacturer. In the Old World the merit is of the vineyard.   

- Producers in the Old World are more subject to the norms of demarcated region, unlike those of the New World, which gives them faster decision and action.

- The producers of the New World are concentrated those in the Old World, more dispersed (For example, the five largest in Chile dominate almost 90% of production; in Australia, four producers account for 80% of the market). The concentration facilitates marketing and allows more funds for promotion and marketing.