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Wine Wednesday: New World vs. Old World

By Carrie Becker in Food on Jan 6, 2010 7:00PM

David vs. Goliath, Age vs. Drink Now, Tannic vs. Fruit-Forward...we could go on about this fierce match-up. Wine can be completely confusing so trying to put wines in buckets is one of the best ways to begin to determine your palate's favorites and what pairs best with your dishes. To help you get a jest of the New World v. Old World buckets, we broke down what they are and, typically, how do they taste:

Old World

Image c/o

What: Wines that, maybe, have the perception of being conservative, snobby and a bit aloof. Perhaps its because of all the crazy rules they impose on the bottle's branding. Champagne can only be from the Champagne region though Spain uses the same process for Cava and the U.S. for sparkling wines.
Where: Mostly European areas (France (e.g. Bordeaux, Burgundy), Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal)
Taste Profile: You usually get the pucker effect from a highly tannic and highly oaked Old World wine, especially in the case of Bordeaux reds. Though, this does help them age quite well. On the flip side, you can also get some very well balanced, not too overwhelming Old World wines. Overall, Old World wines can be great for pairing with food and, of course, to cellar.
Try this: Clarendelle 2006 Grand Vin De Bordeaux* (Sauvignon Blanc 44%, Semillon 46%, Muscadelle 10%)
*Full disclosure: the fine folks breathing new life into the Bordeaux region sent us this wine to try and, well, we liked it.

New World

Image c/o St. Supéry Vineyards

What: Innovative, fresh and willing to break barriers are a few ways to look at New World wines. Sure, new world wines are composed of, many times, the same grapes as old world but they also give a bit of a kick.
Where: Home of the Free U.S.A. (Oregon, Cali and even Texas), South America (you know this place for big, fat Malbec), Australia, New Zealand)
Taste Profile: Known for flavor-bombs in your mouth and high in alcohol (especially Zinfandel from central coast California). However, there is quite a range given the ability to blend and grow any grape you dare in your region. A Pinot Noir from Oregon has a much more mineral, earthy taste than the fruity, juicy Pinots from California.
Try this: St. Supery Virtu White Meritage from Napa (Sauvignon Blanc 52% , Semillon 48%)

Both Old and New World wines have their place in your wine regimen. So, test out our 'try this' recommendations as an interesting conversation starter at your next shin-dig.