What the F*** is Old World Wine?
So many wines, from all over the world. Telling the difference and learning about which wines you like can lead to a serious headache. The easiest way to do it is just to drink more wine, and there is nothing wrong with that. But its still really easy to get lost in the vines, especially when there is no uniform way of telling you what a wine is all about. However knowing whether a wine is Old World or New World can really help you learn more about the wine, your taste preferences, and your style of drinking. So what the fuck is Old World wine? Lets take a look with the Vynl guide to the Old World.
Tradition And Terroir
Tradition and Terroir are the two main driving factors behind Old World wines. Tradition refers to the rules and regulations that control what sort of wine can be produced within a region. For example only Chardonnay is permitted in white Burgundy wines, while red wines from Rioja in Spain will generally consist of 60% Tempranillo, 20% Garnacha, with small proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano.
Terroir refers to the unifying characteristics of a region and the effect it will have on the wine. If we look back to Rioja, the soil is chalky and full of iron. This is what makes a Sangiovese based wine from Chianti so much different from wines made from the same grape in the rest of Tuscany. Winemakers are taught to let the expression of the earth come through in the wine, and while that may not make sense to a lot of us, it really does show.
When you combine tradition and terroir you start to see the characteristics of the region shine through. The grape becomes a vessel, an expression of everything that has gone into making the wine. It is about history cemented in the culture of the people, the landscape, and a desire to present something to the world that is representative of who the people are.
So what is the Old World?
Generally speaking, the Old World refers to European and some Mediterranean wine regions. These are regions where wine history can go back, sometimes, thousands of years. Their traditions, winemaking styles, and the grapes that they use to make the wine, have been developed and vetted over the course of centuries.
When we think of the Old World, we think first and foremost of France, Spain, and Italy. You can also consider Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, and other Eastern European countries as Old World wines. The great thing about the Old World is that it attempts to create order, regularity, and quality control. Once you know an Old World wine, you know what you are getting from bottle to bottle, what to expect, and what you will enjoy. If that is your desire, then the Old World is for you.