Let us introduce you to the Pinot Family!
If you’re a wine drinker from the United States, you’re probably already familiar with Pinot Grigio. And why wouldn’t you be? It’s a delicious go-to wine for a hot summer day! It also happens to be the second most popular white varietal in the US. You could say that Pinot Grigio is one of those fun wines that can get along with just about anyone.
For those of you who like to browse the wine aisles in the store or the wine menu at a restaurant, you’ve probably also noticed wines with similar titles, namely Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. What’s the difference between these three wines? Are they even similar at all? Today, we’re going to find out! Let’s learn a thing or two about all of the wines in the Pinot family.
Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Gris - What’s the Difference?
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are both refreshing crowd favorites, but what’s the difference between these white wines? OK, you got us — that’s a trick question. There’s not much of a difference at all. Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same varietal of grape with different names. They might also go by other aliases such as Auvergne Gris, Baratszinszoeloe, Fromentot, and Spinovy Hrozen. Although they are the same grape, there are subtle differences between this varietal’s two most popular options.
Pinot Gris originated in France in the world-renowned wine region of Burgundy, making it a traditional Old World wine. It is thought to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape, also prevalent in Burgundy. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio both translate to “gray pinot,” which refers to the grape’s unique gray-blue hue. This is quite unlike most white varietals, whose grapes typically have green skin.
When it comes to location, Pinot Gris isn’t a grape to be tied down in one country. We love that traveling spirit! When the varietal eventually found its way to Italy, it was called Pinot Grigio, and it thrived in Lombardy, the Veneto, Fruili, Trentino, and Alto Adige regions.
Flavor and Aroma
On the whole, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris have similar flavor profiles. This varietal can be somewhat tricky to pinpoint in a blind taste test, as it doesn’t have very distinct flavors like other white wines such as Chardonnay or Moscato. Pinot Grigio is a bit of a chameleon and takes on the terroir in its flavor, reflecting the characteristics of the soil in which it’s grown. For example, Pinot Grigio from Italy typically has a brighter, more acidic flavor with aromas of lime and green apple. Pinot Gris from France tends to be fuller-bodied with higher alcohol content and notes of peach and apricot. The flavor differences are due to the distinctions in climate, soil, and elevation in these two regions of the world.
So, how does Pinot Noir play into the saga of the Pinot family? Well, as we have already discussed, Pinot Grigio is a lighter mutation of Pinot Noir. In a way, you could say that Pinot Noir is the Matriarch of this world-famous wine family. Pinot Noir is also thought to have originated in the Burgundy region of France, which is fitting because it is one of the main varietals used for Burgundy wine. It’s also a more food-friendly wine than other reds, thanks to its lighter body and medium-high acidity.
When you find a tasty wine and food pairing, it’s a match made in culinary heaven. Let’s create some food fantasies and talk about the perfect pairings for Pinots.
Pinot Grigio tends to be lighter and more acidic, allowing it to pair beautifully with salads, veggies, shellfish, flakey white fish, lemon pepper chicken, fruit salad, and other light dishes.
Since Pinot Gris typically has a fuller body and higher alcohol content, it can stand toe-to-toe with heartier dishes. Pair it with a creamy soup such as she-crab soup or New England clam chowder, or try it with main dishes like salmon, roast chicken, or pork.
For a red, Pinot Noir is a surprisingly food-friendly wine. Thanks to its relatively light body, it pairs well with a wide range of foods, including goat cheese, salmon, duck, roast chicken, pulled pork, and white pizza.
Pinot Tasting Notes
Pinot Grigio is a zippy, acidic wine that is delightfully refreshing. When you sip a glass of it, you’ll likely pick up notes of lime, white peach, lemon, and green apple.
Pinot Gris is a fuller-bodied white with low acidity and a friendly, rounded mouthfeel. Typically, it will have fruity notes of peach, apricot, honeysuckle, clove, and ginger.
As the black sheep — or red, in this case — of the Pinot bunch, Pinot Noir is markedly more distinct than its Gris and Grigio counterparts. Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red with a striking ruby red color. It has fruit-forward aromas with mild, earthy notes.
If you’re like us, all this talk about Pinots makes you want to pick up a bottle or two. That’s a fabulous idea! Whether you decide to sip and savor the terroir-inspired crispness of a Pinot Gris or Grigio or enjoy the pleasant earthiness of a Pinot Noir, we promise that you can’t go wrong!