Old World wines (ie. Europe, more specifically France and Italy) are elegant, earthy, less-fruit driven than New World wines. Old World wines evolve in a positive way over time. They're more complex. Wine neophytes and unsophisticated palates probably won't appreciate them. New World wines are more approachable when young. They tend to be softer, richer, "lush", loaded with big fruit and velvety vanilla tannins.
Or so say the stereotypes.
So I like the idea of Old World/New World combo packs because they let the customer see for themselves how these stereotypes play out. They can see which side they fall on. Or maybe they'll realize they like both, but can understand why one sort of wine might have more appeal in a different setting than the other. And I really think that trying two "themed" wines side by side is the best way to learn.
These combo packs are also great from a retailer perspective because they can be tailored to almost any price point or taste.
- You like crisp whites? Let's try NZ Sauv Blanc vs. Bordeaux Blanc.
- Big spicy reds? Pair a Northern Rhone Syrah with one from the Barossa in Australia.
- A Bordeaux freak? Right Bank Bordeaux vs. South Africa Stellenbosch (Chateau Beau Vallon vs. De Toren Z is sounding really good right now).
- Feeling flush? Barolo vs. a California Nebbiolo (perhaps Clendenen Nebbiolo from the Au Bon Climat master). Feeling really flush? Add on Vina Alicia's Nebbiolo from Argentina.