Many Ways That European Wine Differs from American Wine

What Grapes Were Used?

This is actually one of the things that hits Americans as they start to purchase European wines. In American wines, all the varieties that are in use are identified by the name.

There are certain rules, such as California and a majority of states needing 75% of a particular grape to be used to be able to identify the grape on the label.

In the EU, the region of origin is typically listed on the label on the front, which requires consumers to be aware of which grapes are permitted in a particular area or needs the winery to include that information at the bottom of bottles.

Stylistic Conventions Do Continue

It’s a bit to make a point of discussion; however, for a long time, we’ve been informed to believe that European wine was more balanced and had higher acidity or fruit as compared to their American counterparts.

It’s an oversimplification, partly because both the EU as well as America have changed and diversified but also because new areas of growth have taken place in the world.

Southern France, Spain, Portugal, and a portion of Italy are equally in a position to produce fruit-forward wines similar to California. Additionally, the newer growing regions located in OregonWashington, and even cooler climate areas in California are producing wines that are balanced and approachable that will remind our grandparents more of France as opposed to the buttery oaky blasts of Chardonnay which created California vintners famous during the 1980s.

When you consider the variety of wines being made when you compare Bordeaux to Burgundy, which is located 600km away, it’s logical to think about the same distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and that’s just approximately half of the state of California.

There is likely to be an abundance of wine produced within the Golden State, too.

Co-op’s Do Exist, But Differently

To start, no, I’m speaking about me or my son and his co-op preschool. Yes, Dad, we’ve definitely become hippy-dippy.

In Europe, there are plenty of cooperative wineries. Similar to what’s happening in California. But, how they operate could not be more different.

Take LaMarca Prosecco. It’s not a single producer or winemaker but rather a group of both to pool winemaking, grapes, and sales tools.

They then produce something that is labeled with a common name, and it is interesting to note that these are among the top-rated wines around the world consistently. In the state of California, there are many cooperatives, too, but in reality, they serve as a space where newly established or smaller wineries can lease space to produce their wines.

Additionally, we call them a custom crush. The primary difference between how a customized crush operates and what you envision is that winemakers who work at the custom crush lease a set amount of cases that they can produce in the facility, not the actual space.

This is done in order to save millions of dollars in upfront costs it would require to build a top-quality winery starting from scratch.

History and Innovation Are At Odds

It’s no doubt that there is no doubt that the European wine industry is a lot more seasoned. There aren’t a lot of 2nd generation winemakers in California or even 10th of the longer lineages than the ones you’ll discover in France.

This is generally a positive thing, and that kind of tradition and expectation can result in enlightened stewardship of the community and land that is not achievable without it.

There are parts of this past that have a cost. Do you wish to plant some rows of Grenache in Bordeaux? How about a Verdelho plant located in the Rhone Valley?

Both could make plenty of sense from the perspective of winemaking, at the very least, when it comes to making a new wine.

However, in France, like other European winemaking regions, this kind of experimentation is not permitted.

Wine Consumption is Changing

This will be the main point of the entire list prior to getting the list too long. Americans are drinking more wine.

The wine market in many existing European markets is decreasing. Suppose you consider the aspect that Americans enjoy European wines. In that case, however, Europeans do not buy as many bottles of American wines, so it’s easy to imagine how things could get complicated in the wine industry within the next few years.

Due to the growing demand in America, however, there is a decrease in consumption in the EU. Will certain EU producers change the way they conduct business to be more American?

Are some American producers being pushed to the side of the road after a rise in imports from Europe and wine that’s inexpensive and tasty get more customers from them?

Here’s a short list of five ways both the EU and the American marketplaces for wines differ, not only in the method of production and how it is sold. Although it’s hard to make any conclusions about the millions of bottles that are produced along the process, I hope this gives you a thought to consider.

Mark Aselstine is the owner and sole proprietor of Uncorked Ventures, a wine club located in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a wine lover (obviously), as well as the complexities of selling online in a fast-growing and changing market. You’ll often see him posting on Twitter where he talks about the world of sports, politics, parenting, and, sometimes, wine.


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