By Ed McCarthy, Mary Ewing-Mulligan

What do the wines of North and South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand have in common? For one thing, none of them are produced in Europe. In fact, you could say that they are the wines of “Not Europe,” and the name most often used in wine circles for Not Europe is the New World.

Undoubtedly, this phrase, with its ring of colonialism, was coined by a European. Europe, home of all the classic wine regions of the world, producer of more than 60 percent of the world’s wine, is the Old World. Everything else is nouveau riche.

In wine terms, the New World is not just geography but also an attitude toward wine. Some winemakers in Europe approach wine the liberated New World way, and some winemakers in California are dedicated Old World traditionalists. Keep that in mind as you look over the following comparison between the Old World and the New World. And remember, these are generalizations — and generalizations are never always true.

New World Old World
Innovation Tradition
Wines named after grape varieties Wines named after region of production
Expression of the fruit is the primary winemaking goal Expression of terroir (the particular place where the
grapes grow, with its unique growing conditions) is the winemaking
goal
Technology is respected highly Traditional methods are favored
Wines are flavorful and fruity Wines have subtle, less fruity flavors
Grape-growing regions are broad and flexible Grape-growing regions are relatively small and fixed