It’s not too difficult to find a good bottle of Pinot Grigio. It is the second most popular white wine in the world after Chardonnay. However, if you are not a wine expert, you may be a little nervous about choosing the perfect bottle, particularly if you are taking it to a dinner party.
This is where we come in. We are going to tell you everything we know about Pinot Grigio so that you will find the whole process a breeze. However, don’t worry if you take some time in the wine aisle. If there are different brands of Pinot Grigio, it is a good idea to spend a little time studying the labels. Not all bottles of Pinot Grigio are the same.
What Exactly is Pinot Grigio Wine?
Pinot Grigio is a light, crisp, and refreshing wine. It pairs with a lot of food although not red meat. The Pinot Grigio white wine grape comes from the same family as the Pinot grape. You may have already tried the light red wine called Pinot Noir and also Pinot Blanc. Scientists have worked out that there was some sort of genetic mutation that created the Pinot Grigio grape.
The History of Pinot Grigio
Perhaps you have heard about Pinot Gris. Well, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are exactly the same wine. The only difference is that Pinot Gris is produced in France, while Pinot Grigio mainly comes from Italy. Exactly the same grapes are used to produce both wines. Pinot Gris was around first. The grapes were cultivated in Burgundy during the Middle Ages. From there the grapes travelled to Italy and then to other parts of the world.
Where are Pinot Grigio Grapes Grown Nowadays?
The most popular Pinot Grigio wine comes from northern Italy, but the grapes are also grown in California, Australia, Moldova, and Hungary. In France, these grapes are grown in the Alsace region although they were first grown in Burgundy.
Italian Pinot Grigio Grapes and Wine
Pinot Grigio grapes are grown all over Italy, but the best ones are grown in the northern part of the country in the hilly regions of the Dolomites. This region is perfect as it shields the vines from the strong winter winds. There is a breeze in this area but it comes from the Adriatic sea and is warmer. This helps the grapes to flourish and ripen quickly.
The most popular Pinot Grigio grapes come from the Alte Adige region, Friuli-Venezi Giulia region, and the Veneto area which stretches from the Dolomites to the Adriatic Sea. The Pinot Grigio wines that are produced in these regions are crisp, fruity, and acidic. It is light-bodied so you won’t have a heavy taste in your mouth.
However, the grapes now grown in the Alsace region of France are also producing excellent wines. The Alsace region is on the border with Switzerland and Germany. It is where 13% of Pinot Grigio is produced. The soil here is volcanic and the temperature isn’t too high. This means that the wine is more full-bodied than that produced in Italy. The flavours are also more powerful.
Pinot Grigio Grapes Characteristics
Pinot Grigio grapes have different characteristics based on the areas they are grown. They can vary in colour. They are often referred to as grey grapes as they don’t have much colour. They can be either bluish grey when they are ripe, but in some regions, they are brownish pink. The grapes used to make Pinot Grigio grow in small clusters on the vine.
What is the Taste of Pinot Grigio?
Pinot Grigio is generally light to medium-bodied so is not heavy in the mouth, but in some regions, the wine produced has more body, although there are variations that we will look at later in this article. It is usually dry and acidic, but there is a version that is sweeter. The Pinot Grigio fermented in Germany is an example of the sweeter version.
Most Pinot Grigios are silky and smooth and simply slide down your throat. The colour of the wine can be anything from pale yellow to deep gold.
Flavours of Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio can have a range of flavours. Some are more fruity than others. You may get a taste of spice or honey, almond, honeysuckle or apple. One of the most common flavours is citrus and this can range from lime to lemon to grapefruit. Apples, apricots, and peaches are also common flavours. The aromas of the wine reflect the flavours.
Is Pinot Grigio Dry or Sweet?
The Pinot Grigio that is fermented in Italy is a dry wine. The mountains of Italy are cooler and this produces a light-bodied wine, which is both crisp and dry.
However, Pinot Grigio produced in France is sweeter. It tastes like crisp apples and candied lemon. The grapes that produce this sweet wine are harvested later than the ones used for dry Pinot Grigio. The wine is sweet because the late harvest takes away some of the acidity.
What to Look for in a Good Pinot Grigio
If you like the flavour of stone fruits, go for a Pinot Grigio produced in a warmer climate like California or Australia. If citrus is your preference, choose a Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. This wine has strong lemon and lime flavours. Italian Pinot Grigio is also more saline meaning that you will have a faint taste of salt when you drink the wine.
A good way to know if the wine tastes of the flavours you want is to smell it first. Going to a wine tasting is always a good way to sample new wines. Many wineries hold wine tastings so if you are travelling in the right area, see if a winery is offering a tasting. If you like the wine, you can always buy it there and then.
What Food to Pair Pinot Grigio With
It is always nice to pair a good wine with delicious food and vice versa. The dryness of Pinot Grigio pairs well with fish and seafood as well as white meat like chicken and turkey. It also complements vegetarian and vegan food, especially dishes made with tofu and soy products. Soft cheese is also a great accompaniment to Pinot Grigio, in particular Brie and Camembert. Some soft blue cheeses also go well, for example, Italian Gorgonzola. Italian food naturally goes well with Pinot Grigio, in particular creamy pasta and pizza.
With the knowledge of what food goes with the wine, you will be able to host a wonderful dinner party. Of course, you don’t need to have people over for dinner to enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio with a delicious plate of seafood or a slice of homemade pizza.
Some Suggestions of Meals to Have with Pinot Grigio
- Chef Gordon Ramsey’s Chicken Supreme – just google it to get the recipe.
- Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Smoked Salmon Pizza
- Fresh, mild, and soft mozzarella. Try making a Tricolore Salad with slices of mozzarella, tomatoes, and avocado.
- Thin slices of prosciutto, parma ham, and other cold meats.
- Crudites with a soft cheese dip.
- Grilled or roasted chicken
- Pasta with a pesto sauce
- Pasta Carbonara.
- Fresh fruit salad.
- Seafood including shrimps and lobster.
- Fattier fish.
- Rocket and parmesan salad.
- All kinds of vegetables
The Three Different Types of Pinot Grigio
You might not be aware, but there are actually three types of Pinot Grigio. If you know what they are, you will be able to pick the best one to go with your food. The three types are distinguished by where they are grown as different regions with different soil types and climates produce different flavours.
The Three Types of Pinot Grigio
- Dry and fruity
- Sweet and fruity
- Dry and minerally
Dry and Fruity Pinot Grigio
This wine is the traditional Pinot Grigio and the one that most people associate with the name. The flavours and aromas are of peaches, apricots, apples, and citrus. It is important that you smell your glass of wine so that you get the scents of the fruits.
It is then easier for you to distinguish between all the different flavours. If there are a lot of different fruit flavours, it means that the grapes were grown in a region which has a lot of sun.
Dry and fruity Pinot Grigio is not very acidic and it has an almost oily texture that slides down the throat very nicely. The wine is less acidic because it goes through a special process that uses bacteria. This bacteria eats the sharp acids and releases the smoother acids. This process is called Malolactic fermentation. The malic acid in the grapes is destroyed, while the lactic acid is released. It is this acid that makes the wine smooth and oily.
Where Does Dry and Fruity Pinot Grigio Come From?
- The biggest producer of this version of the wine is Italy. This is where the classic Pinot Grigio is fermented. The regions where this wine is produced are Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Tuscany, Abruzzo and Sicily. You will get the fruitier flavours from Scilly as it is hotter there than in the north of Italy.
- Oregon, USA
- Washington state, USA
- California, USA
- New Zealand
What Clues Can You Get From the Label?
It is always a good idea to read the label on the back of the bottle of wine you are thinking of purchasing. The internet is also a good source of information.
It is best to look for a Pinot Grigio that has been fermented in neutral barrels or stainless steel tanks. You don’t want Pinot Grigio that has been fermented in oak barrels as then the wine would taste of oak and this is not what a Pinot Grigio is.
Another thing to think about is the time that the wine has aged. To get a dry and fruity wine, you don’t need for it to be aged for too long.
Look to see if the wine has been produced by Malolactic fermentation. This way you will be getting a wine that is not too acidic.
There are often other tips on the wine label, such as the ABV or the level of alcohol in the wine, the temperature it should be served at, and food that pairs well with the wine.
Sweet and Fruity Pinot Grigio
You can, surprisingly, buy sweet and fruity Pinot Grigio. The region that grows grapes that are turned into sweet Pinot Grigio is Alsace in France. Here the wine is often known as Pinot Gris. The reason that this wine is produced here goes back centuries. The people tried to make a sweet wine to give to the King of the Ottoman Empire. Then the wine was then called Tokaji. Until 2007, the label called this wine Tokaju d’Alsace.
How Do I Find this Style of Wine?
The only region that produces this sweet and fruity version of Pinot Grigio is Alsace. If you are visiting the area it is a good idea to visit one of the wineries that produce it. You will then be able to taste it to see if you like it. If you prefer a sweeter wine, you won’t be disappointed by this Pinot Grigio.
The grapes used to make this wine are harvested late. This makes for a sweeter wine. The tastes and aromas you will discover are honeycomb, lemon candy, and honey crisp apples. Be sure to smell the wine before you taste it to pick out the aromas. This makes it easier to taste the different flavours.
Clues You Will Find on the Label
If you are looking for a sweet Pinot Grigio, look for labels calling it Pinot Gris or a grand one Pinot Gris. It will say that it comes from Alsace in France. The label should say vendange tardive which means that the grapes have been harvested late. The best variety of this style is called selection de grains nobles.
Dry and Minerally Pinot Grigio
The final style and flavour of Pinot Grigio is one that is dry and minerally. These wines are very popular all over the world. The wine is produced in many regions, the most popular being Northern Italy and the cool foothills of the Alps.
Other areas where this wine is produced include Slovenia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, and other parts of Italy, including Sicily. These grapes grow best in mountainous areas which are cooler and help the wine to have high acidity. High acidity gives the wine the minerally flavour.
This Pinot Grigio is great to enjoy very cold on a hot day. It is very dry and there is no sign of fruit so it is more refreshing. There are many dishes that you can enjoy this wine with such as poultry, hard cheese, seafood, especially mussels, and even French fries. Try it with creamy dishes such as cauliflower cheese.
How do you Find This Style of Pinot Grigio?
The grapes for this wine grow best in cooler climates so avoid Pinot Grigios that come from places like Australia and California. The best dry and minerally Pinot Grigios come from the following areas:
- Italy, especially the Veneto and Lombardy areas as well as Trentino-Alto Adige
- Germany, in particular, Rheingau and Pfalz
- Austria, especially in the Alps area
- Okanagan, Canada
What Clues Does the Label Give?
There are usually many pointers on the labels of Pinot Grigio that will tell you that it is a dry and minerally wine. Firstly, the wine needs to be fermented in stainless steel tanks. Oak barrels are no good as they will give a taste of oak to the wine.
You also don’t want to see the word, Malolactic, as this method produces dry and fruity wine. The alcohol level also gives a clue. Dry and minerally Pinot Grigios usually have a lower alcohol level than the other two varieties. The ABV should be 10% to 12.5%. The other varieties can be up to 14% ABV.
Rose Pinot Grigio
Perhaps you weren’t aware, but there is a rose version of Pinot Grigio. The style is known as Ramato and it is produced in the same style as other rose wines. The grapes are picked when the pale mauve skins of the grapes become a pale copper colour.
It is a very quick process to produce this wine. All that happens is that the grapes are macerated in the juice of the skins for around 30 hours.
How Can I Find Ramato?
The most popular place where this wine is produced is in Friuli in Italy. Each producer has his or her own flavour for the wine. It can taste and smell like dried cranberry, white raspberry, or even leather. There can be a taste of sour cherry or a faint taste of meat. It is a wine that can be served with either white or red meat, cheeses, and vegetarian dishes. It also goes well with fruity desserts.
The Top Seven Bottles of Pinot Grigio in the World
There are a lot of varieties and brands of Pinot Grigio and it can be difficult to choose the best one. Here we are going to take a look at what we believe to be the top seven Pinot Grigios out there. Hopefully, you will be able to find some of them in your supermarket. If not, try a specialised wine shop.
Voga Pinot Grigio – delle Venezie IGT, Italy
The area where this wine is produced in the prime region for growing Pinot Grigio grapes. They are a stylish company as their bottles come in unusual shapes. The caps are resealable so you can keep the wine for longer after it is opened.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio – Valdadige, Trentino – Alto Adige, Italy
This dry and minerally Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular in the market today. It is well regarded all over the world, not just in Europe.
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio – Alto Adige Trentiner Alto Adige, Italy
The Santa Margherita brand is very popular and here we have another variety. This wine changed the face of Pinot Grigio. Before this wine was produced, Pinot Grigio was pink and was full-bodied unlike now when it is a light yellow colour and is light to medium-bodied.
Santa Margherita created the first modern Pinot Grigio by fermenting the wine without the skins and by keeping it at a low temperature. The wine also isn’t fermented for long and doesn’t need to be aged to give a better quality. If you can find it, this wine is definitely worth trying. It is the King of Pinot Grigios.
Pacific Peak Pinot Grigio – California
Not all the best Pinot Grigios come from Italy. California also produces the wine and this is one of the best. Perhaps you are wondering how Pinot Grigio can be produced in a sunny and warm climate when it is better to grow the grapes in a cooler climate. The solution the producers found was to use a cold fermentation process. The wine has a nice blend of fruity flavours and is a little sweet, though not as sweet as the Pinot Grigio grown in Alsace, France.
Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio – Australia
Yellow Tail has become a very popular brand, especially in the US. The Pinot Grigio has a nice fruity flavour which will please those who like dry, but fruity Pinot Grigio. A great advantage of Yellow Tail is that it produces wine that is affordable. You won’t have to spend a fortune buying a decent bottle of Pinot Grigio.
Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio – Morning Star Vineyard, Sonoma Mountains, California
This wine is produced in a mountainous area of California so the climate is ideal for growing Pinot grapes. It is a rich and bold wine that tastes of vanilla, citrus, and melons. It is smooth so it slides down your throat with ease. It is one of the best Pinot Grigios out there and it will also please Chardonnay drinkers as it is 11% Chardonnay.
Da Vina Pinot Grigio – delle Venezie IGT, Italy
Here we have another bottle of excellent Pinot Grigio from Italy. You will smell flowers before you taste it and will then get flavours of green apples and minerals. This is another Pinot Grigio that will please Chardonnay lovers as it has 5% of Chardonnay in it. There’s nothing wrong with having a blended wine as you get the best of both worlds.
The Future of Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio just keeps getting better and better. Gone are the days when you couldn’t be quite sure that the wine was going to be good or not. Winemakers have been experimenting with new ways of producing Pinot Grigio. In the Friuli area of Italy and in Slovenia, Pinot Grigio is now being fermented in chestnut barrels. This produces a more smooth taste and excellent dryness. Oak barrels aren’t used because they tend to flavour the wine with oak which is something you don’t want in a Pinot Grigio
Tips for Choosing the Perfect Bottle of Pinot Grigio
If you are not a wine expert it can be difficult to choose the perfect bottle of wine. If you are taking a bottle to a dinner party, it can cause stress as you don’t want to take an unexciting and perhaps too sweet wine. Many wine experts say that Pinot Grigio is a good choice of wine to choose. Here we are going to give you three tips on choosing a great bottle of Pinot Grigio.
Tip Number 1
Get to know all about Pinot Grigio. It is a wine that is light and refreshing, and quite often fruity. Remember that Pinot Grigio is called Pinot Gris in France and that these bottles are usually sweeter than what is produced in other parts of the world.
Tip Number 2
Remember that there are three types of Pinot Grigio – dry and fruity, sweet and fruity, and dry and minerally. Be prepared to read the label to see what you are getting.
Tip Number 3
It is important to know that Pinot Grigio is a popular wine, so you should be getting a good bottle. It is the second most popular wine in the world and it is fast catching up with the most popular, Chardonnay.
Harvesting and Fermenting Pinot Grigio Grapes
Pinot Grigio grapes are generally harvested early. They are then put into stainless steel tanks to ferment. These tanks allow the wine to keep a large amount of acidity. It is a quick wine to produce as it is bottled between four and twelve weeks after fermentation.
The Differences Between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc
Both wines are crisp and dry. However, Pinot Grigio is a little heavier-bodied than Sauvignon Blanc. It is also slightly sweeter and more perfumed. Sauvignon Blanc is a little more acidic than Pinot Grigio and also slightly crisper.
The Differences Between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay
Chardonnay is heavier than Pinot Grigio and it’s also less acidic. It also has the taste of smoked oak from the barrels it has been fermented in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pinot Grigio Sweeter Than Moscato?
The answer to this is no. Moscato is one of the sweetest wines out there and is often drunk as a dessert wine.
How Do I Pick a Good Pinot Grigio?
Don’t just look at the price. Even affordable Pinot Grigios can be excellent bottles of wine. The best Pinot Grigios have citrus and apple flavours and are light-bodied.
Can I Use Pinot Grigio in Cooking?
Yes, the acidity of the wine makes it a great choice to use in dishes. Don’t just use a cheap wine that you wouldn’t drink as you will be able to taste it in the food.
Perhaps you started off your wine journey drinking overly sweet wine. Many of us do when we are young and perhaps get hooked on boxes of wine. Unless your parents are wine connoisseurs, it might be a while before you get to drink an excellent glass of wine.
However, one of the most popular wines out there is Pinot Grigio, so you may continue your journey through Pinot Grigio. It can come in a box as well, so you may start drinking it earlier than other wines. Perhaps this will make you want to try bottled Pinot Grigio and take your journey through the three different types of wine.
You need to decide which you prefer. Do you like a minerally type of wine with little or no fruit flavours? Perhaps you still prefer sweet wine? If so, go for Pinot Gris. Maybe you like a fruity wine. If so, there is both sweet and dry fruity Pinot Grigios. Once you have decided what you like, you are bound to find a great bottle of Pinot Grigio.