The great wine debate: old world versus new world!

Check out this fascinating podcast which debates all of the facets of old world versus new world wine. Jancis Robinson, award-winning wine writer, advocates for old-world wine. Oz Clarke, a leading wine expert, argues for new world wine. The debate was moderated by Amelia Singer, TV presenter and former wine writer.

The new world includes California, Australia, South Africa, and Chile. The old world includes France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, among others

Debating wine as a science

The debate touched on wine taste, body, alcohol content, technology, methods, and more. One of the key debates is as to the role of science and technology in winemaking; even as new world winemaking developed more and more, some dismissed new world wine as “vin de pharmacien,” a pharmacist’s wine.

Interaction between old and new

Robinson pointed out that the two regions have more interaction than might seem. Many “old world” winemakers do internships in the new world, and in the current generation of winemakers, friendship and problem-solving ideas are shared across regions.

New world, new wine flavours

Clarke argued that creating wine is not just about recreating flavours we already know; it’s about imagining and creating new flavours we’ve never seen before. The search demands “a new world state of mind.” This thrill of making something new is not only in the realm of fancy, inaccessible wines; it also created the simplest, everyday wines we drink, which prioritize the casual wine drinker and their enjoyment over everything else (whereas old world winemakers value tradition over appealing to palates).

Wine and climate change

Climate change and sustainability present both challenges and opportunities for new world winemaking. The two speakers also commented on each other’s arguments. Robinson claimed Clarke’s arguments about climate change actually weaken his case since new world regions are more threatened and old world regions are experimenting to adapt to it. Clarke argued that this old world innovation is not actually occurring at the necessary speed.

The great wine debate – where do you stand?

In addition to historical differences and rivalries between the old world and new world winemaking, climate change has added extra complexities, challenges, and opportunities. Although old world winemakers tend to prioritize tradition over innovation and new world winemakers rely on science rather than history, both will have to adapt in order to continue to create delicious wines into the future.

Questions about wine to discuss:

  • Do you prefer old world or new world wines? Why?
  • Do you think technological innovation or traditional methods are more important in winemaking?
  • What do you think is the most exciting recent development in winemaking?
  • Which are your favourite wine regions?
  • What do you like best about your favourite wine?
About the author: Larysa Hale
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