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What is Pinot Blanc?

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  • Written By: S. Williams
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2016
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Pinot blanc is a white grape that is used primarily to make wine. This variety of wine grape is a genetic mutation of another grape variety called pinot noir. The unstable pinot noir typically produces a black grape but often will produce a single cane that grows white fruit. This flexible variety of grape is used to make many different white wines in addition to its namesake.

Curiously, a pinot blanc wine designation means only that the beverage is made primarily from pinot grape varieties, not that it was made exclusively from any one type of grape. Most versions in this white wine group will offer a fruity aroma and floral characteristics. A "true pinot" wine is rarely made but will consist of a single strain of grape. If one of these hard-to-find "true Pinot" wines is available, it will offer even stronger characteristics.

Most pinot blanc white wines are intended to be consumed fairly soon and rarely improve with age. A high-quality pinot blanc sometimes can be aged. Time typically will enhance its honey flavor.

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It originated in Alsace, France, but this variety of wine grape is grown in California, Germany, Austria and other European countries. It often is used in combination with other grapes to make a wide variety of wine types. In France, the blend of juices used to create both champagne and Burgundy wines might contain juice from the pinot blanc grape. Germany and Austria use this white wine grape to make both sweet and dry wines. Italy and Hungary produce primarily dry white wines from the pinot blanc grape.

Depending on the country of origin, the pinot blanc grape might be referred to by a different name. In Austria, it would be called weissburgunder or klevner. Fehér Burgundi is the proper term in Hungary, and Spanish and Italian wineries will use pinot bianco. In Czechoslovakia, residents say Rulandské bilé, and the grape is called Rulandské biele in Slovakia.

Pinot blanc wines often are confused with chardonnay, but the crisp, dry varieties of this wine are less intense in flavor than the more well-known chardonnay. Most bottles of this wine also are priced lower than many other versions of white wine, but it will pair equally well with chicken or seafood. It also is a good match for a pasta dinner or salad course. To fully enjoy the fruity flavor, one should chill this wine to between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (between 10 and 13 degrees Celsius) prior to serving.

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