6 Old World Wines That The New World Made Famous

You know what they say, sometimes it takes a change of scenery to finally make it big. Maybe it’s all the competition in the place you’re currently in, or you’ve just never been appreciated the way you should be by those around you. Whatever the reason, many of us have found success once we’ve changed careers or locations, and the same is true for these six old world grapes. While these grapes may have gained some attention, and even been appreciated by drinkers in their indigenous country, they didn’t find true fame, and become global phenomenons, until striking out for the New World. Once there, there was no stopping their ascent.


As a grape born in France, Malbec’s original role was to be one of the six grapes eligible for inclusion in the famed Bordeaux blend, but while its siblings Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were always included, Malbec consistently found itself languishing in the corner. But as we know, no one puts baby in a corner, and so Malbec found its way to Argentina where it became the bell of the ball. It’s now one of the most popular red wines in the US, and all it needed was to take a trip to South America.


Carménère was another one of the six Bordeaux grapes that found itself seldom used in the blend’s creation, so seeing the success of its sibling Malbec, it also picked up and moved to the Southern Hemisphere. Planting its roots in Chile, just next door to Argentina where Malbec was flourishing, Carménère is now one of the fastest rising red wines on the American market.

Get the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.


Sure wine aficionados have been familiar with this Rhone varietal for centuries, but it wasn’t until Syrah made its way to Australia and became Shiraz that it became a global phenom. In fact, Shiraz became so popular that many people don’t realize it’s the same grape as French Syrah!

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc found minor success in the posh nightclubs of Paris, where it was known as Sancerre, but didn’t reach global acclaim until it journeyed to New Zealand. In the 1980s, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand hit the American market, and wine drinkers went crazy for the crisp, grassy and refreshing white wine. From that moment on, one could hear people requesting Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand in wine shops everywhere throughout the summer.


Zinfandel is so famous as a New World wine, that it was originally thought to have actually originated in the state of California. However, recent research has shown the grape actually originated in Croatia, and that some time in the 1820s it made its way to the US. How’s that for reinventing yourself?

Cabernet Sauvignon

Before you start screaming that Cabernet has been famous in Bordeaux for centuries, hear us out. Prior to its arrival in California, Cabernet was primarily famous for its role as the dominant player in left bank Bordeaux blends, but it was the bright lights of California that made Cabernet a true star, convincing the grape to leave its supporting cast behind and finally cut that solo record it had always wanted to. Hollywood can have that effect on people.

Header image via Shutterstock.com