Want to know more about Pinot Grigio and the best bottles to buy in 2021?
Pronounced “Pee-Noh Gree-Jhee-Oh,” this white wine is light, crisp, dry, and has loads of tantalizing acidity!
It goes by many names worldwide - in France, you’d sip a glass of Pinot Gris wine, and in Germany, you would order a Grauer Burgunder!
What is it about this dry white wine that gets everyone talking? How does it taste? Which Pinot Grigios should you buy?
Let’s discover everything you need to know about Pinot Grigio - from its origin to how it's made, taste, and fabulous food pairings. We’ve also found 8 of the best Pinot Grigio wines you should try in 2021!
In this article, we will cover:
- All About Pinot Grigio
- A Brief History of Pinot Grigio
- What is the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris?
- Pinot Grigio Wine Regions
- Viticulture And Winemaking of Pinot Grigio
- Wine Characteristics And Taste
- 4 Types Of Pinot Grigio And How To Differentiate Them
- Fantastic Food Pairings With Pinot Grigio
- 8 Delicious Pinot Grigio Wines You Can Buy In 2021 (Including Taste, Prices)
- 2006 Gravner Anfora Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
- 2014 Bressan Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
- 2007 Volpe Pasini Zuc di Volpe 'Ipso' Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli
- 2017 Dario Princic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
- 2017 Foradori 'Fuoripista' Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT
- 2012 Franco Terpin 'Sialis' Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT
- 2018 Radikon Sivi Venezia Giulia IGT
- 2017 Damijan Podversic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
Grab your favorite glass of wine, and let’s get started!
All About Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio, the Italian name for Pinot Gris, shares a genetic fingerprint with Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco).
Pinot Gris is also considered one of the four noble grape varieties, alongside Riesling, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer.
Read more: Serve only the finest of wines to your guests! Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Champagne.
Now let’s quickly peep into the history of the grape.
A Brief History of Pinot Grigio
The origins of Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, can be traced back to Burgundy during the Middle Ages.
The popularity of Pinot Gris (labeled initially as Tokay d'Alsace) spread from Burgundy to Switzerland by the 1300s.
The Pinot Gris grape was popular in Burgundy and Champagne until the 19th century. Unfortunately, it yielded unreliable crops, and this caused the wine grape to fall out of favor.
Vine breeders developed a clone varietal in the 20th century that turned out to be a more reliable crop.
In 1961, a wine producer from Santa Margherita, northern Italy, produced the first pink Pinot Grapes as white wine - and the Italian Pinot Grigio was born! The Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige has delicate floral aromas and crisp acidity.
Around 2005, Pinot Gris started to regain its popularity worldwide, especially the Pinot Grigio varietal and other New World varietal wines.
What is the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris?
According to researchers from the University of California, the difference in color between the Pinot Gris grape and the Pinot Noir grape is due to mutation over time.
Even though Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape variety, the style of wines they produce are different:
- Pinot Grigio style: Grown in Italy and produces a dry, light-bodied wine with citrus aromas
- Pinot Gris style: Grown in Alsace, France, and produces a richer, full-bodied, and sometimes sweet wine
Let’s look at the Pinot Grigio wine regions and how this affects the white wine’s taste.
Pinot Grigio Wine Regions
You’ll find around 15,000 hectares of Pinot Grigio plantings across Old and New World wine regions.
The wine’s characteristics vary depending on the region it is grown in, for instance:
- Pinot Grigio from Italy is harvested earlier, meaning the grape maintains more of its freshness and acidity. The wines from this region are mass-produced and are more affordable than Pinot Gris.
- In Australia and the United States, Pinot Grigios are left on the vine a bit longer. The late harvest helps create a richer fruit flavor and helps to maintain high or moderate acidity.
- The grapes used to make Pinot Gris in the Alsace region are harvested even later and produce a full-bodied sweet white wine.
The other wine regions where this grape thrives are
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Africa
Viticulture And Winemaking of Pinot Grigio
The Pinot Grigio grape thrives in cooler climates (like in Willamette Valley) and matures earlier with higher sugar levels.
The grape grows in various colors on the vine, and when it ripens can be a pinkish-gray, blue-gray, or pinkish-brown color.
Depending on the region and vinification, this grape could produce a sweeter wine or, if fermented to dryness, a wine with high alcohol levels. (We’ll tell you about the different wine styles later.)
The style of winemaking also has an impact on the wine style. Because of the different styles, you could end with a Pinot Grigio that’s
- Light to medium body with tangy acidity, or
- Full-bodied with a rich texture, and are generally very dry, unoaked, and unblended.
Wine Characteristics And Taste
Italian Pinot Grigio often has a silky smooth texture that impresses any palate. It is the acidity in this wine that keeps it refreshing and stops it from being too sweet.
Typically, a Pinot Grigio has the following characteristics:
- Appearance: Straw yellow color
- Structure: Dry, light-bodied wine, low tannins
- Flavors: Range from melon to green apple, subtle tropical or citrus fruit
- Aromas: Lemon-lime, pear, peach, apricot, baking spices, honeysuckle, and almond
- ABV: 11.5% - 13.5%
How does it measure up to one of the most loved white wines - Chardonnay?
Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio
When it comes to comparing these two white wines, you need to look at several angles.
But which one is better?
Because these wines are almost identical in appearance, the real judge is your palate.
- If you enjoy a heavier wine with the aroma of fresh-cut grass and oak and buttery flavors, then Chardonnay should be your go-to wine. Also, Chardonnay ages much longer and comes at much more expensive price points than a Pinot Grigio.
- If you favor a fresh and light wine with tropical fruit notes, then Pinot Grigio is your new best friend.
4 Types Of Pinot Grigio And How To Differentiate Them
Pinot Grigio comes in four styles:
1. Mineral and Dry
This type is most popular in northern Italy (Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy, and Veneto), Austria, Romania, Slovenia, and Hungary.
These dry whites are loved for their simplicity. They often lack in fruit flavors and have a saline quality.
They are produced in stainless steel tanks, and there is no oak aging or malolactic fermentation.
2. Fruit-Forward and Dry
This type of Pinot Grigio wine is popular in Argentina, Australia, California, New Zealand, and Oregon.
It has notes of lemon, white peach, and yellow apple. Other than the fruity aroma, this wine has an “oily” texture from the malolactic fermentation.
It is produced in stainless steel tanks or neutral barrels and goes through partial malolactic fermentation.
3. Fruity and Sweet
Alsace is the only region that makes sweet Pinot Gris wine. Expect flavors of sweet lemon candy, honeycomb, honey, and crisp apples from this style.
Look for these terms on the labels when you buy a sweet Alsace Pinot Grigio:
- Sélection de Grains Nobles and Vendage Tardives: Very sweet wine
- Grand Cru Pinot Gris and Pinot Gris from Alsace: Less sweet
What’s more? There’s also a Rose Pinot Grigio!
4. Rose Pinot Grigio (Ramato)
Made in Friuli Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy, this Pinot Grigio has become a strong contender in the Rose wine world.
Ramato (meaning “auburn” or “copper”) wines are made by crushing Pinot Grigio grapes and letting them soak with their skins (maceration) for 24-36 hours. This process gives the wine its pale copper hue.
With Ramato, you’d experience notes of leather, sour cherry, white raspberry, or a meaty, dried cranberry flavor on the finish.
Fantastic Food Pairings With Pinot Grigio
Sushi, ceviche, and seafood (shellfish) pair perfectly with a great bottle of Pinot Grigio.
You can also pair this dry white wine with light pasta dishes and gruyere or manchego cheeses. If the wine has high acidity, avoid tomato-based recipes or citrus fruits.
Have a little bit left over?
No problem! Pinot Grigio can last a few days corked in the refrigerator.
Ready to find out the best Pinot Grigio wines you can buy in 2021?
8 Delicious Pinot Grigio Wines You Can Buy In 2021 (Including Taste, Prices)
1. 2006 Gravner Anfora Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
This Grigio is in a class of its own. It is a robust wine, and it surprises you with its delicate and ethereal nature. On the palate, it leaves you with sweet, red fruits that linger on with a lasting finish.
Price of 2006 Gravner Anfora Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: $155
2. 2014 Bressan Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
This elegant and full-bodied wine has a bright straw yellow color. It has notes of fruit with hints of flowers, walnuts, roasted almonds, and dry hay.
Price of 2014 Bressan Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: $66
3. 2007 Volpe Pasini Zuc di Volpe 'Ipso' Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli
Here is a Pinot Grigio with a deep golden color and not the light and breezy style we’re used to. This thick and resinous wine has aromas of honey, pine, almond, and dried apricot.
Price of 2007 Volpe Pasini Zuc di Volpe 'Ipso' Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli: $54
4. 2017 Dario Princic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
The grapes used for this wine are harvested from a 60-year old vineyard rich in sandstone - so it is no surprise that it has a fresh and salty taste. In a glass of this amber-colored wine, you will find elegant aromas of ripe exotic fruits, candied citrus, and hibiscus.
Price of 2017 Dario Princic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: $49
5. 2017 Foradori 'Fuoripista' Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT
This stunning Pinot Grigio has a rich rose gold color. The winemaker, Elisabetta Foradori, redefined macerated wine laws, and you will experience notes of light vegetal, spices, and licorice.
When it comes to taste, you will encounter mineral and savory notes that develop into a never-ending finish.
Price of 2017 Foradori 'Fuoripista' Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT: $47
6. 2012 Franco Terpin 'Sialis' Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT
Want an intense Pinot Grigio with concentrated flavors? Then the 2012 Franco Terpin should be on the list for any white wine enthusiast. It has a bright copper color and a well-balanced body, and an unexpected freshness.
Price of 2012 Franco Terpin 'Sialis' Pinot Grigio delle Venezie IGT: $47
7. 2018 Radikon Sivi Venezia Giulia IGT
This copper-colored Pinot Grigio is an exceptional wine with complex aromas of fruit, specifically red cherries.
On the palate, there are persistent notes that are slightly tannic, elegant, and mineral. It develops into a fine finish with lingering notes of wild berries.
Price of 2018 Radikon Sivi Venezia Giulia IGT: $42
8. 2017 Damijan Podversic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT
This elegant copper-colored Pinot Grigio has light ruby reflections.
It has a complex nose and displays aromas of strawberry, raspberry, dried figs, and pomegranate, with hints of wet rock. When it comes to the palate, you will experience a rich, vigorous, and persistent character.
Price of 2017 Damijan Podversic Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: $41
Does Pinot Grigio Wine Age Well?
Pinot Grigio isn’t a wine that you could store in your cellar for years. It is meant to be consumed in its youth and enjoyed within three years of its vintage.
If you are looking for a fine white wine to invest in, you could always take a look at a classy Chardonnay Wine or any other investment-grade wine for your collection.
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