A reader wrote and asked what was the difference between Old and New World wines. Here’s a brief summary.
Old World Wines are European wines. They face tough weather conditions and are often harvested early thus having less sugar, more acid and lower alcohol. Most age well. Food generally has evolved to suit local wines and wine is usually part of the meal. Its lower alcohol means it is more food friendly, with lean, austere, acidic, elegant restraint, and subtlety that reflects the terroir of the region.
New World Wines are made outside Europe. They have dependable weather and sunshine producing ripe grapes with dense fruity, intense flavors. They tend to be high in alcohol, are often oak aged with caramel, toast and vanilla flavors, and are drinkable on release. Few are age worthy. They are sometimes difficult to pair with foods because of big tannins and high alcohol. They tend to be overstated, are often sweet but also rich with intensity and power.
To confuse the issue, New World Wines are labeled by the grape variety like chardonnay or syrah. However, Old World wines are labeled by the region where that variety is grown, like Chablis, Meursault, Macon Village for chardonnay and Hermitage, St. Joseph, or Cote Du Rhone for Syrah.
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Confused? To fully understand the difference, homework is necessary. Here are some inexpensive (read cheap) wines to develop your Old World palate. From France try the La Ferme Julien Rouge, Caves Fournalet Cotes Du Rhone and from Sicily the Ruggero Di Tasso Nero D’ Avola all available at Trader Joe’s. At World Market try the Spanish Rene Barbier Mediterranean White and Red and the Jaume Serra Christalino Cava Brut. For Portuguese wines, the Save Mart on Lander Avenue in Turlock always has a fresh supply of Aveleda Vinho Verde and Grilos Vinho Tinto. You might want to add a Spanish Garnacha (Catalonia), a Tempranillo (Rioja) or a bargain sangiovese (Chianti). There you have it, Semester 1 of OWWs. Stay tuned for Semester 2 of OWWs, the expensive kind. Have fun and remember to sip seriously.
What’s On Our Table
If you like crisp whites, try the Noble Vines 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, made with grapes from the San Bernabe AVA in Monterey County. It’s clear in color with apple and pear aromas and a tangy-tart long finish. I get all puckered-up just writing this. It is sale priced under $10. The 2015 Terra d’ Oro Zinfandel is an Amador County bargain at $15, sale priced around $13. It is medium bodied with dark cherry/blackberry flavors and pleasant spice notes on the finish. Cheers!
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