Old World vs New World Wine

Wine is racist! … Yes, racism pervades everything, especially the topic of old world vs new world wine. The terms ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ are totally outdated. Watch my video below and check out some links I’ve included that will help get you started on dismantling racism in the wine industry.

The history of ‘new world’ vinyards

Wine vineyards set up outside of Europe were done so by invading colonists on what was undeniably stolen land… Think about it… When immigrants from England first came to colonize America, they called it the ‘New World’ and then proceeded to murder the indigenous people who already lived there.

old world wine

Countries that were stolen by European ‘conquerers’ include:

  • USA
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

The European colonization of all these countries meant that original and indigenous cultures were erased, native people were murdered, and many of those who survived were enslaved.

The taste of colonization

The terms “old world” and “new world” are clear colonial terms that are not even trying hard to masquerade as anything else. I much prefer to say “European wines” and “Non-European wines” when talking about where a wine is from. This is for two reasons:

  1. It doesn’t evoke racist, colonial imagery.
  2. It’s much more specific and helpful.

Keep in mind that colonization was all about WEATH and LAND-OWNERSHIP and NOT about the wellbeing of the people who had originally inhabited those places.

The ‘new world’ wine landscape

new world wine

As of now (stats taken on the 31st of June 2020), black people own only 105 out of around two million wine brands. This means that black owned wine brands only account for 0.00005% of wine brands in total.

Traditionally, and even now, white land owners profit from sales while black and brown people work out in the fields doing all the ground labor.

Native communities are still suffering from the effects of alcohol pushed upon them by white settlers. Originally, it was introduced to them as a means of control while the colonizers were busy stealing land and killing dissenters.

Also, when was the last time you saw a white-owner wine brand being marketed to anyone other than a white person? Probably never.

Wine companies need to step up and address their issues involving racism. The wine world needs to reckon with its history of colonialism, and the vocabulary it uses to describe wine.

How you can help

Firstly, words matter, so swapping out ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ with ‘European’ and ‘Non-European’ is a pretty easy, but powerful thing to do.

Secondly, educating yourself about decolonizing wine and reading about wine experiences from people of color is a wonderful way to expand your worldview. Here are some places to start:

Support Black Owned Wine Businesses

Vinepair – Black-owned Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries

Wine Enthusiast – A Global Guide to Black-Owned Wine Brands

Educate Yourself

Seven Fifty Daily – What Being an Ally Really Means – by Shakera T. Jones

Punch Magazine – It’s time to Decolonize Wine – by Miguel de Leon

New York Times – Black Wine Professionals Demand to be Seen

Vinepair – What Racism Looks Like Inside a Napa Valley Tasting Room – by J’nai Gaither

5280 – One Black Female Sommelier’s Take on the Wine Biz in Denver – by Maia Parish

Grape Collective – How Wine Can Stop its Return to an Era of Snoot – by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher

New York Times – Prestigious Wine Organization Drops Use of Term ‘Master’ – by Christina Morales

Wine Spectator – A Voice for Black Winemakers — by MaryAnn Worobiec

Jancis Robinson – Many Hues of Wine Talent – by Jancis Robinson

If you would like to support the professional development of POC in the wine business, here are some links to get you started:

The Association of African American Vintners

Wine Unify

The Veraison Project

Urban Connoisseurs

This blog post may not have been what you expected. Nonetheless, I hope it’s been a fruitful read and has cleared up the problem of the ‘old world vs new world wine’ debate. I hope you agree that this is an important issue, and join me in helping to decolonize wine!

old world and new world wine terms are racist