This post is in honour of a friend of mine who insists on ordering Pinot Grigio every time we go out and then is surprised when ‘this’ Pinot Grigio tastes nothing like the one he buys at home. I try to explain to said friend that Pinto Grigio/Gris will differ depending on where it is from and the winemaker. No matter how much I try to break down the art of wine making and the joys of varietal exploration it doesn’t help. So, I am now turning to writing down the in’s and out’s of Pinot Grigio in hopes that it helps said friend.
All About Pinot Grigio
If I were to be chronologically correct, I would entitle this post ‘Pinot Gris’, the French name for this grape, as Pinot Grigio is a later clone to it and is found in Italy. However, the grape rose to fame through Italy’s global marketing and export initiatives, which saw exports rise to 1.5 billion litres to the US alone, in 2015. Needless to say, the light Italian white took off as no one could have imagined in massive markets such as the US (see export numbers above), Canada and the UK. I cannot say if it was the low price of these wines or a whimsical marketing campaign that did it, but Pinot Gris, and North American patios were taken over by Pinot Grigio.
Fun Facts about Pinot Grigio
- Pinto Grigio is the offspring of Pinot Noir
- Pinot Grigio is from France and is called Pinot Gris there, but given the fame of Italian Pinot Grigio, the names have been used interchangeably
- The name Pinot Gris means; pine cone (‘pinot’ likely because of how the cluster of grapes grow) and grey (‘gris’ for the colour of the grape skin)
- Perhaps you figured this out from the fact above, but just in case, Pinot Grigio is a white wine made from red grapes
Pinot Grigio – Colour, Smell, and Taste
On the eyes: the colour of Pinot Grigio varies greatly and is dependent on how it was made. In general however, you’ll find this wine to take on a golden hue
On the nose: vanilla, lemon, apple, and pear
On the palate: lemon, lime, green apple, mild floral notes, and honeysuckle. Know that where the wine is being made will add to this descriptor. For example, Pinot Grigio is harvested much sooner than its French older brother Pinot Gris. This means you’ll find higher acidity in Pinot Grigio when compared.
I admit that I too will order a Pinot Grigio, but it’s usually if I see an Alsatian beauty on the menu. Truth be told, I have a bit of a love thing going on for Alsace, France and if you’ve been wondering, it’s been great thus far!