Did you know Pinot Grigio is the second most popular white wine for wine drinkers in the United States? Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for this wine but you may hear this varietal referred to as Pinot Gris in the U.S. and France. Don’t be confused… they’re the same thing! It’s crisp, dry, light, and has a hint of acidity to make it delicious and zippy! Pinot Grigio’s punchy acidity can have tasting notes of fruit flavors like lemon, lime, honeysuckle, and green apples. While most believe Pinot Grigio originated from Italy, it’s actually from France. It’s a mutation of the red grape variety, which is Pinot Noir, its red wine counterpart. The skins are not green like other white wine grapes but give off a beautiful greyish blue hue instead. The wine was born in Burgundy but found favor in Switzerland in the 1300s. The wine slowly made its way to northern Italy and the real story begins. Pinot Gris became the most popular white wine in new world Italy and then eventually became the most popular imported white wine in the U.S. and a vineyard favorite across wine regions like California and Oregon, as well as New Zealand, Austria, and Australia.
what does pinot grigio taste like?
The right Pinot Grigio can be the perfect addition to a hot summer day. Pinot Grigio has its haters -- like all stars do. Wine snobs claim the wine is too simple and uninteresting. Although, mass produced bottles could be blamed for that opinion. Pinot Grigio got so popular, wine makers took to making budget bottles and creating massive marketing campaigns. Too many high volume, industrially made, diluted, high acidity, and just yucky Pinot Grigio wines, giving this noble variety a great disservice. Fortunately, in the sea of Pinot Grigio wannabes there are still many that stand for quality. The Italian Pinot Grigio wines are typically light bodied, crisp, fresh with bright stone fruity tones, occasional floral aromas, and a touch of spice. The Alsace (French) style Pinot Gris wines are incredibly rich, have earthy minerality, and terrier. This richer texture leads to great cellaring potential (you can thank us later!)
how is pinot grigio made?
We mentioned that Pinot Grigio wines come from a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. Pinot grigio grapes skins have colors ranging from blush pink to the more recognizable bluish-gray and sometimes even brown tinted. Pinot Grigio has a pale golden color because the grapes are not left in contact with the skins or stems. Italian style Pinot Grigio is harvested quite early. This happens to attempt to retain all that fresh acidity and zing! If the summer is hot, the picking date is quite important. This has a big impact on the color. As Pinot Grigio ripens, the grapes take on a pinkish color. Wines with riper grapes can be much more golden. Take a peek next time you are sipping on a Pinot Grigio! Fermentation and storage typically takes place in stainless steel tanks -- this keeps the flavor profile fresh and bright. If barrels were used instead, the palate weight would be heavier and sweeter. Overall this would detract from the simple, clean style that Pinot Grigio is known for.
what does it pair well with?
Pinot Grigio is a delightfully versatile dry white wine making it perfect for food pairings at the next dinner party. Seriously, it seems like this wine goes with just about everything, whenever you’d like! We suggest the next backyard BBQ, lemon chicken, thanksgiving leftovers, dim sum, seared salmon, your next giant charcuterie board, or even your leftover sandwich from lunch! It's almost like champagne's easygoing third cousin!
how does it compare to other white wines?
White wine can range from very dry, such as some varieties of pinot grigio, to very sweet, like sweet rieslings and oaked chardonnay wines. Two of the most drinkable white wines are sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio. They are widely pleasing and for good reason. Pinot Grigio is a very neutral dry wine compared to other white offerings. It is typically chosen as a palate cleanser and the same can’t be said for any other white wines. Strong foods simply don’t overpower the lighter notes the wine has, and though it’s not strong enough to stand against a heavy meal like steak, it pairs nicely with a variety of options. So when in doubt, pick the Pinot Grigio!