Find out what to expect in Pinot Grigio taste before you go shopping. Generally speaking, Pinot Grigio tastes like green apple, bitter almond notes, peach, citrus flavor, and spice notes. Unlike Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio is usually made without oak aging. Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular wines in the world.
You might see people talk about Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Gris. These are two different words for the same wine grape. Pinot Gris is the term used in France (e.g., Alsace Pinot Gris), while Pinot Grigio describes the Italian style. Genetically. Pinot Gris is related to the red wine grape Pinot Noir.
What Are The Characteristics of Pinot Grigio?
Experienced wine drinkers consider wines from several dimensions. To enhance your wine appreciation, take note of the following factors. For fun, compare wines made with a different winemaking style (e.g., one where a wine master used oak barrels and another where the wine master choose stainless steel).
- Flavor Profile. The fruity flavors are compared to stone fruit like a peach. Generally, there are no oak flavors, so do not expect a buttery flavor in this category of wine.
- Appearance. Hold the wine up and take a look at it. In your wine glass, the wine typically has a straw yellow appearance. In some cases, the wine has a pink or copper appearance.
- Aromas. Taking a few moments to smell the aromas in the glass is one of the secrets of wine appreciation. In Pinot Grigio, you will usually notice lime, green apple, and lemon aromas. The aromas of lemon might remind you of lemonade. The refreshing acidity in the wine makes it a good choice for the hot weather.
- Alcohol Content. Pinot Grigio has a medium alcohol level – expect 12.5-13.5%. Keep this alcohol level in mind when you decide how much to drink.
- Climate. Pinot Grigio, like other dry wines, tastes different depending on where it is made. In a cool climate like Alsace, you will taste a refreshing acidity in your wine glass. In warm climates like New Zealand, you will notice the aromas of nuts, apricots, and almonds. Tasting Pinot Grigio from a wide variety of climates is one way to make the wine more enjoyable.
What Wine Regions Make Pinot Grigio?
Developing your Pinot Grigio taste is easier when you know your way around the main regions that produce this white wine grape variety.
- France. In France, Pinot Grigio is called “Pinot Gris.” The white wine grape variety you know as Pinot Grigio originally comes from France. Look for this white wine in the Alsace region, a cool climate. Note that French wines typically do not list the grape on the label. The French style of Pinot Gris is crisp and refreshing. That makes it an excellent choice for wine drinkers in the summer months.
- Italy. The Italian wine industry has made Pinot Grigio famous! When browsing wine lists online or at a restaurant, look for the following Italian wine regions: Friuli-Venezia Giuli, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Veneto.
Outside of Europe, white wine lovers can find this type of light wine made in various locations like the USA (i.e., the California wine region), Australia (i.e., look for cool climates like Adelaide Hills or Tasmania), and Chile.
Chardonnay Vs Pinot Grigio: How Do They Compare?
Beginner wine drinkers (and the pros!) often compare Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio. Let’s take a look at the aromas, flavors, and other significant aspects of wines.
- Aromas. It isn’t easy to answer because Chardonnay wine varies so much depending on the wine region. Few people can tell the difference between Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio until they take a wine taste.
- Flavors. Pinot Grigio is light-bodied, while Chardonnay is medium-bodied. If you want a crisp, refreshing flavor, pick up a bottle of Italian style Pinot Grigio. If you are looking for a more decadent style of wine (a good idea for food pairings that feature heavier sauces), Chardonnay is a good choice.
- Acidity. If you have compared a typical Chardonnay bottle of wine to a Pinot Grigio bottle of wine, you will immediately see a difference in acidity. Pinot Grigio generally has higher acidity than Chardonnay.
- Other Aspects of Wines. Oak flavors are a significant difference. IF you are used to the heavy oak flavors of Chardonnay from California and drink an Alsace-style Pinot Gris, you will notice the lack of oak flavors (i.e., no buttery flavor). Italian style Pinot Grigio is typically produced using stainless steel tanks.
- Availability. Generally, it is easier to find fantastic quality Chardonnay because it is made well in several regions like France’s Burgundy region and California. In comparison, Italian style Pinot Grigio is your best be for finding high-quality Pinot Grigio. Checking scores and reviews from publications like Wine Spectator can help you find complex wine that you will enjoy.
What Is The Best Brand of Pinot Grigio?
There are two ways to answer this question: personal experience and awards. To discover the best brand of Pinot Grigio for you, consider buying 3-5 bottles and tasting them with friends at a wine tasting at home.
The other way to find the best brand of Pinot Grigio is to look at awards. To give you a shortlist, here are three Pinot Grigio brands that have recently won Decanter awards.
- Amandum, Grey , Friuli Isonzo, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, 2016. This 13.5% alcohol by volume wine won the Gold Award from Decanter and a score of 95.
- Peter Zemmer, Giatl Riserva Pinot Grigio, Alto Adige / Südtirol, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy, 2017. This 14.5% alcohol by volume wine also won a Gold award from Decanter. The Decanter tasting notes highlight “honey, spice and roasted nut flavors.”
- Gašper, Pinot Grigio, Goriška Brda, Primorska, Slovenia, 2017. I had no idea that Slovenia produced award-winning Pinot Grigio! This 13.5% alcohol content wine won a Gold award from Decanter and a score of 96. Even better, it is a screwcap so that you can open it up quickly.
As a rule of thumb, the best Pinot Grigio wines are made in Italy so start your search for the best Pinot Grigio in the Italian wines section of your wine shop.
What Are Good Food Pairings For Pinot Grigio?
Is it summer? If so, Pinot Grigio pairs well with the light foods and dishes commonly enjoyed in the summer months. There are many common food recommendations to pair with Pinot Grigio because it is a food-friendly wine. By all means, enjoy this wine with your favorite comfort food and see if the pairing works for you.
Specific food pairings that add to the Pinot Grigio taste profile include:
- Light Pasta Dishes. Avoid the food pairings that feature heavy creams – such dishes go better with Chardonnay.
- Soups. A light soup is a good food pairing. Avoid heavy creamy soups.
- Chicken and Seafood.
- Spicy Food. Track down a bottle of off-dry or semi-sweet Pinot Grigio to pair with your favorite spicy dishes. The sweetness plays a crucial role in balancing the heat of the food.
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