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Saturday 16 December 2023

Wine wars: Old World and New World get the boot

Old World wine comes from traditional producers in nations like France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. 

New World wine is usually from more recent arrivals on the global world scene: think the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentine.

Pretty straightforward you would think. And easy to understand for casual consumers. 

But this is the wine industry, so let's muddy the waters a little, should we? 

Wine producing countries will no longer be referred to as Old World or New World in materials from the US arm of the Court of Master Sommeliers, it has announced in its December newsletter.

The Court of Master Sommeliers says it "sets the global standard of excellence for beverage service within the hospitality industry with integrity, exemplary knowledge, and humility". 

It may be pompous, but it carries considerable clout, particularly in North America.

The Court said the decision was prompted by “commitment to uphold historical accuracy, eliminate cultural bias, and acknowledge the growing challenge of distinguishing between ‘Old World’ and ‘New World’ wines.” 

Referencing “evolving styles” in a “dynamic wine landscape” the somms said they will no longer feature Old World/New World terminology in published materials or examination assessments.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) has already done away with the terms, trade publication The Drinks Business says. 

Traditionally, New World wines have been produced in countries where vines were originally transported from Europe. 

But are wines from say, Armenia, Lebanon, or even Israel, Old World or New World? 

It will be interesting to see how this evolves. 

Image: Juan Garcia Hinojosa, 

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