Pinot Grigio is quickly becoming the most popular white wine, second only to Chardonnay and for good reason. Knowing how to choose a Pinot Grigio requires just a few simple tips to get to know this crisp and versatile wine.
Pinot Grigio basics
Pinot Grigio is sometimes called Pinot Gris, depending on the country of origin or where it is sold. The name itself derives from the French: “Pinot” means pine-cone and ‘gris’ means grey. Pinot Grigio grapes grow in small clusters that resemble pine-cones. Grape colors vary from very pale blue-grey, to shades of green and even dark brown hues. Pinot Grigio grapes were cloned from their red Pinot Noir counterparts, and should not be confused with another offshoot grape, the Pinot Blanc.
Pinot Grigio regions
Pinot Grigio is normally associated with Italy, but is quickly becoming the favored grape varietal in France’s Alsace region, Germany and the United States, particularly in Oregon. In 2007, Pinot Grigio jumped into the second spot as most popular white wine in the U.S. behind stalwart chardonnay. Wine and Spirits Daily indicate that Pinot Grigio accounted for 22.5% of all wine sales nationwide in restaurants during 2007.
Pinot Grigio characteristics
*Once poured into a glass, Pinot Grigio wines generally have a pale yellow or straw-like color. There will be some variations but these wines are seldom clear or a deeper yellow.
*Pinot Grigio wines are known for their very citrus notes, including lemons, tangerines, limes or an intriguing blend of these essences. Wine tasters often refer to detecting notes of soft apple.
*Many varieties will also feature hints of vanilla, caramel, and honey but without being sweet as Pinot Grigios are classified as dry wines.
*They will finish with a distinct crispness on the tongue, or have a ‘bite’ versus a creamy textured finish. There are a few differences among the various Pinot Grigio wine regions.
*Italian versions tend to be very dry with hints of minerals on the nose that are further detected upon tasting. Mineral notes in wines are subtle and there is no need to worry about a wine tasting too much like tin.
*Oregon and California offerings will have a much fuller and richer fruit flavor with the same hints of minerals.
*French Alsace wines are much fruitier and contain elements more along the lines of peach, melon, or grapefruit.
Pairing Pinot Gringo with food
These wines pair wonderfully with the foods normally associated with other white wines including fish, chicken, seafood, and pork. Other great pairings are South Asian dishes, and pastas with thick cream sauces rather than rich and acidic tomato based sauces.
Pinot Grigio wine suggestions
Barefoot Pinot Grigio hails from California and provides the lush flavors of crisp apples, peaches, and lemons in this full bodied white. Great with grilled chicken or seafood, and spicier stir-fries.
Giovello (Dragonfly) is a classic Italian Pinot Grigio with pleasantly tart citrus flavors and the subtle mineral notes. Pairs wonderfully with pasta served with an Alfredo cream sauce or rosemary crusted pork.
With just these few tips on how to choose a Pinot Grigio, it is easy to see why this wine is becoming popular with white wine drinkers. With a meal or on its own, Pinot Grigio is giving the traditional Chardonnay a run for its money.