A small difference can make all the difference. Such is the case between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Although there are some similarities, a true wine connoisseur knows what makes each of these varieties unique. Now, you can too.
The Pinot grape that creates both wines originated in France, and is a grey cousin of the Pinot Noir grape. In fact, the names Gris and Grigio mean grey when translated from their respective languages. Pinot Gris is the French version of the delicious wine. The most popular place to grow Pinot Gris is in the Alsace region of France, where it is produced as a full bodied wine, yellow-ish in color. It can also be produced in other regions in France, such as Burgundy, where the color can vary from gold to a light pink. It can also have an aroma of mushrooms, fruits, spices, and occasionally wood. This is because of the natural environment of the vineyards, as well as the diverse soil in the region. The French Pinot Gris grape has small blue grains on it because of the soil, as well as the varying weather in its environment.
The Pinot Grigio grape is the Italian version of the Pinot Gris grape. Because of the warmer temperatures during the day, and cooler air at night, the grapes get everything they need. Periods of dryness also contribute to their unique flavor. Pinot Grigio is grown in many areas throughout northern Italy. They are most popular in Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, which make up the Tre Venezie region of the country, Alto-Adige, Veneto, and Friuli. Pinot Grigio grapes are harvested earlier than French grapes, because they tend to drop in acidity when the grapes are more ripened. Because the Italian grapes are harvested earlier than the grapes in France, the alcohol content is quite often lower. This wine has a dry, light taste, with the aftertaste typically lending to flowers and fruits. Specifically, Italian Pinot Grigio is known for its lemon and citrus aromas.
Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are grown in other places around the world. Australia, South America, Hungary, and California have vineyards that grow the Pinot grapes mimicking the French and Italian processes of making the delicious wines. This includes growing the grapes in similar type soils, and harvesting the grapes early to simulate the light, dry Italian Pinot Grigio flavor, and late for the full bodied French Pinot Gris taste.