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Guide to White Wine Grape Varieties & Types

Wine Guide

The Pinot Gris
Wine Grape

Also Known as Pinot Grigio - Two Wines & Styles, one Grape

Pinot Gris Wine Grape

Although Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are one and the same - the styles can be quite different. Pinot Grigio tends to be less ripe and more lean, while Pinot Gris is typically more full in body with developed fruit flavors and hints of an exotic spiciness.

The History of Pinot Gris

A member of the ancient Pinot family that also includes Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, this grape was first mentioned in the Middle Ages. First cultivated in Burgundy, this grape spread to other areas of Europe, including Italy - where it is bottled as Pinot Grigio and has become a highly popular planting in the Northeastern part of the country - as well as Alsace, Germany and Hungary.

Qualities of the Pinot Gris Grape

You may be wondering if that grape bunch shown up above is a mistake - shouldn't Pinot Gris be a white grape? In fact, it's known as 'Gris/Grigio', both translating to gray because its color isn't in fact quite white. Some bunches can be blue-grey to brownish pink. Early-maturing, the grapes can reach high sugar levels earlier than most other varieties, so do best in cooler climates.

Pinot Gris Wine Characteristics

Body: medium to full
Acidity: medium to high
Flavors: reminiscent of stone fruits, such as apple and pear, as well as more tropical notes including melon; Italian 'Grigio' bottlings may show more austere mineral and citrus notes

Regions Where Pinot Gris is Grown

- In France's Alsace region primarily, although there are also plantings in the Loire Valley
- In Germany around Baden and Palatine, as well as Hungary
- In northeastern Italy's Alto Adige and Friuli–Venezia Giulia appellations
- Oregon's Willamette Valley in the U.S. as well as smaller plantings throughout California

Pinot Gris Fast Facts

-Bottled under a wide variety of regional varietal names, the most common are: Pinot Grigio (Italy), Auxerrois gris (Alsace), Malvoisie (Loire/Switzerland), Grauburgunder (Germany/Austria)
In the U.S. and New World, generally bottled as Pinot Gris although some producers use the Italian Pinot Grigio name as well
- Famous Producers: Trimbach, Hugel, Zind Humbrecht, King Estate
- Usually best drunk young, some finer bottlings can age 10-15 years

Pinot Gris Wine & Food Pairing

- The richer Pinot Gris style can fare well with cream-based sauces and softer cheeses. The lighter Pinot Grigio style is nice with seafood and shellfish.
- Easy Food and Wine pairings with Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris:
      Pesto Pasta Primavera with Yellow Squash

Here are some of our favorites:

    2007 Luna Vineyards Pinot Grigio
Less austere than some Italian selections with bright, citrusy fruit that verges on tropical. ($18)

   2007 Fontana Candida Pinot Grigio
Easy-drinking and straightforward, this Pinot is light, fresh and tasty with food. ($9)

Next Wine Grape:  Riesling Wine Grape




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