'Rest of World' is a phrase becoming less and less meaningful (and less easily definable) with each year that passes in the modern wine world. Wine is now produced in more and more regions all over the world, and production volumes in established stalwarts such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany are steadily reducing. Long-dormant vineyard zones are being revived (in Georgia, for example) and new wine-bearing terroirs are being sought out in locations as far-flung as Patagonian Chile (Malleco), northern Mexico, eastern China and southern England.
Once upon a time, the United States, South Africa, Australia, Chile and Argentina would have been considered 'Rest of World', but this is clearly not the case today. These five countries have unquestionably earned their place alongside the old guard of the Old World. They have their own moniker, New World, although all five have been producing wine for several centuries. Even faraway New Zealand is no longer 'Rest of World', even though its world-famous Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has been produced only since the 1970s.
Of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China), only Russia remains 'Rest of World', as Brazil, China and India have now made clear progress towards developing large-scale domestic and export markets, unlikely as this might have seemed 20 years ago.
In the early 21st Century, the 'Rest of World' category is populated by those nations which have something to offer the world of wine, beer and spirits, but whose vinous profile remains relatively low key. In the Far East, Thailand, Vietnam and particularly Japan are nurturing their small-scale wine industries, adding wine (and also quality whisky, in Japan's case) to their more traditional alcoholic beverages. At the opposite end of wine history, the Caucasus countries such as Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey, where man's relationship with wine began, are also redeveloping their viticultural potential.
Even though they make no wine, the Caribbean Islands offer the world fine rums of various descriptions, as well as a handful of beers. Similarly, the likes of Latvia, Ireland, Ecuador, Indonesia and Serbia are not known for their wines, but nonetheless export alcoholic beverages of interest.
In some ways, 'Rest of World' is the most interesting category in Wine-Searcher's database. It contains the obscurities, the oddities; the drinks you've never heard of. It's where you'll find bison-grass vodka, masticha, raki, pisco and palo. It is also home to the wine styles of the future and the regions yet to be discovered by consumers in the other 'rest of the world'.