The old world and new world of wine define the geographical map that contains the common features such as the grape and the great differences in production, climate and above all in style. Let’s try to see where they are and how they differ from their ancestors.
A little bit of history is always useful
Europe is considered the cradle of the Western world. With its strengths and weaknesses it is probably one of the most balanced and peaceful places of the last 80 years. When we mention the old world of wine we mean wines produced in Europe through the evolution of a millenary tradition. On the contrary, to understand how the wines of the new world are born, it is necessary to start from the colonization following the discovery of America, of the countries bordering the Atlantic coasts.
Starting from the 16th century, Great Britain, France, Holland, Spain and Portugal will condition the future of all the lands they come into contact with. Over the centuries, the bloody conquests have been followed by peaceful relationships. Countries have progressively become independent, the language has remained and so have the relationships built over time. The studies on the vines, the cultivation areas and the economic assets that have led to the present have gradually been introduced.
Where is the New World of wine
United States, with California in priority, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand are the identifiable areas of the New World of wine. They acquired vine growing techniques, vineyard treatments, technologies used in processing and aging techniques from Europe. In this sense, globalization is complete.
What do they have in common with the old world? The vines. As expected, the varieties of the new world are all imported from the old world, they are the so-called international varieties, mainly of French origin. For some time, however, vines of Italian origin have been making room, such as Sangiovese, whose reputation is very high thanks to the fame of Brunello di Montalcino. But also Nero d’Avola, imported into the hottest areas of the world, such as Australia thanks to the notoriety of the extraordinary wines that are produced in Sicily.
A question of style
Style is the one that best helps to understand the differences of the old world nd the new world of wine. What is the style of a wine? Without using technical words, wines tend to be a bit like humans: Europeans are more sober and measured, while the new worlds always express more marked sensations, more structure, more aromatic impact. Seen from the old world, the wines of the new world are more “predictable”, the style always favors softness, roundness and pleasantness. It is understood that they are almost never born in a logic of pairing with food, but to be served alone as a drink.
In the new world, wine does not necessarily go with a dish. Originally, or rather central southern Europe, wine at the table with food is the obvious consumption for all producing countries. Wine is part of the meal and is almost never consumed alone, on the contrary the toast becomes the pretext for a small snack and turns into an “aperitif” usually in the pre-dinner.
Eno-gastronomy is not Food&Wine
It is necessary to reiterate this before talking about consumption methods. In Europe, wine is not a substitutable consumer product, it is part of the history of the Western world. In the old world we place wine together with a series of basic foods, such as cheeses and cured meats, which over the centuries have represented the cornerstones of human sustenance, thanks to the techniques invented by man to make perishable products such as milk and fruit durable.
The prefix “eno” tells us about 2000 years of experience in the production and consumption of wine: of colonization by the ancient Romans, of the painstaking work of passing on vines and plants from generation to generation for 2 millennia. But also the gastronomy tells us of a varied history of European and non-European travels, including inns for stopping off, of storytellers and painful recipes to insert and enhance imported foods after the discovery of new continents.
Appellations? No, thanks.
The new world tends to simplify, tries to meet the taste of the market and does not like to complicate life with superfluous rules, such as typicality and origin. The designations of origin that have characterized the transformation of the wine market in the last 60 years do not exist beyond Europe. This is often the source of major international conflicts between the EU and different countries.
The old world tends to protect the origin of the products and demands that there is no confusion between the original products and the latest arrivals; the new world boast the supposed freedom of the free market and to call products whatever you want. Not least Australia, which would like to call Prosecco the wine produced in the country from the Glera grape. Consequently, the battle is open and involves the tables of international diplomacy.
For all the reasons I mentioned above, it is clear that wine deserves a few hours of study by enthusiasts. The old world and the new world seen through wine are an interesting exploration of how man collaborates with the environment and the “result” obtained through his intervention.
The real limit: it is very difficult to find new world wines in Italy in the wine lists, with exceptions in the big cities. And if we exclude Champagne, even European wines do not have an easy life. It is a real pity, because the lack of comparison and extreme protectionism towards national wines do not help the wine-lover to build a correct vision of the world of wine. Italian wine is worth as much as it is able to compare with the productions of the world and enhance its peculiarities.