Unpolished Grape Series: Pinot Gris/Grigio

Overview

Pinot Gris/Grigo (PG) is a semi-aromatic white grape variety known by “Gris” in France and “Grigio” in Italy. Today, it is planted primarily in cooler climates and usually produced as a single varietal wine. Known for its light-medium body (depending on where it’s grown), PG can take on a range of characteristics from refreshing and delicate, to riper and complex. It can express a wide array of fruit flavors depending on where it is grown and when the grapes are harvested.

Pinot Grigio, Italy (Light & Dry)

The Pinot Grigio grapes grown in Italy, commonly in the Veneto region, are usually picked earlier in the season when compared to France. An earlier harvest means acid levels are higher and sugar levels are lower. As a result, these wines are light and dry, displaying green and citrus fruit flavors of apple, pear, lemon and lime. Many of the wines here are mass-produced, simple and mediocre in quality. However, complex and fuller body styles can be found in Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

Pinot Gris, France (Heavier & Riper)

The Pinot Gris grapes from France, commonly in the Alsace region, are commonly picked later in the season. The delayed harvest causes the grapes to be riper and more complex than those picked earlier in Italy. As a result, the riper flavors display stone and tropical fruit notes like peach, nectarine and pineapples. These wines can be dry, off-dry, or sweet depending on the sugar level at harvest. Wines under around 11% ABV are most likely on the sweeter side. Bottle-aged Pinot Gris can also develop notes of nuts and honey.

Around the World

This grape is grown across the world and usually made as a single varietal. Mimicking France and Italy, wine-makers usually adopt either the Gris or Grigio branding based on how the grapes are grown and harvested. Due to its neutral and semi-aromatic characteristics, Pinot Gris can be made in both high-volume/inexpensive and premium styles.

Food Pairings

PG pairs well with an array of light and flavorful dishes including pan-seared or roasted white fish, shell fish, roasted chicken, grilled vegetables, and rice. Its fruity flavor also compliments lemon-based, creamy or white wine sauces. As for specific pairings for Gris vs Grigio styles, one rule-of-thumb is to pair with cuisines and wines from the same region.

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