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What is Pinot Grigio?

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  • Written By: Brendan McGuigan
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2016
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Pinot Grigio is a grape varietal popular in Italy and growing in popularity throughout the rest of the world. It has fairly pink skin, imparting a rich color to the white wines it is used in producing. Unlike most wine grapes, which have a uniform green flesh, the flesh of Pinot Grigio is nearly white, with a grey cast giving rise to its name. The wine is widely believed to be a clone of Pinot Noir, related to Chardonnay.

Pinot Grigio is also known as Pinot Gris in other parts of the world, particularly in France, where it is grown primarily the Alsace region. In the United States, demand for Italian Pinot Grigio has skyrocketed in recent years, outstripping the demand for Chianti and leading Pinot Grigio to be the number one imported Italian wine. This phenomenon has been replicated throughout the world on a lesser scale: more than three million cases of Pinot Grigio are produced in Italy annually, as opposed to under 15,000 in the 1970s.

Most Pinot Grigio is on the lower-end of both the price and production spectrum, with a great deal less care going into its creation than that of the great Italian reds. This holds true in many wine regions, though a number of wineries in Oregon have taken Pinot Grigio to the next level and created some truly spectacular examples of this grape.

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The grape may be prepared in a fairly wide range of styles, and different regions produce extremely different varieties of Pinot Grigio wines. The classic Italian Pinot Grigio is a very light wine, with little complexity and a bit of acid. The Pinot Grigio out of Alsace, in contrast, can be positively full-bodied, with botanical notes and an extremely high alcohol content. Oregon wines made from Pinot Grigio tend to fall somewhere between these two extremes, adding ripe fruit flavors throughout, especially of melon.

Pinot Grigio is also used in some regions, particularly parts of Germany, to produce a sweeter wine. It is one of those wines that is susceptible to the noble rot, allowing it to be used to create the ultra-sweet desert wines which always have a steady market.

Pinot Grigio is usually best drunk young, losing much in aging. Some of the Oregon examples of this wine are built for longer life, and many of the Alsace varieties can become substantially better through aging, but these exceptions are few and far between.

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Perdido
Post 6

@OeKc05 - My favorite Pinot Grigio is similar to yours, though I’ve never tried Barefoot. I like Placido Pinot Grigio, and it also best when consumed in the summer, especially at outdoor grilling parties.

This white wine has apple and citrus overtones. It is not very bitter at all. A definite advantage to buying this wine to stock for a party is its low price of $10.99.

I love how it tastes with lime-citrus grilled shrimp, cajun chicken, and old-bay seasoned seafood. I always invite my coworker who makes the best shrimp and crawfish bisque I have ever tasted, and everyone agrees that Placido is the wine to drink with it.

To finish the meal off, someone always brings apple dumplings. This wonderful dessert is made with tart apple slices, sugar, biscuit dough, orange juice, and cinnamon. The citrus-apple flavor goes perfectly with Placido.

OeKc05
Post 5

I live on a tight budget, and my favorite wine is Barefoot Pinot Grigio. I have gotten so accustomed to the flavor that even if I started making more money, I think I would still stick with this type of wine.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio combines two of my favorite fruity flavors, green apple and white peach. The tartness of the green apple is the strongest note, while the peach is more of an undertone. The bright finish is accomplished with the help of citrus aromas and flower blossoms.

This wine is best enjoyed in the summer. I find it goes great with spicy chicken, pizza, and pasta.

seag47
Post 4

One of the guys at work bought everyone in the office different types of alcohol for Christmas. He bought most of the guys some sort of hard liquor or novelty beer, and the girls got champagne and wine. He gave me a bottle of Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio.

I had never tried it before. I went home and took a sip, and the flavor pleasantly surprised me. I sipped it during dinner and afterward until I got sleepy and happy. It doesn’t take much for me, because I rarely drink. After about one 6 ounce glass of pure Pinot Grigio, I had gotten quite tipsy.

wavy58
Post 3

I'm definitely not a wine connoisseur, but I do like Pinot Grigio. I just buy whatever is available on the supermarket shelf.

I don't like the taste of pure wine, so I mix it with Sprite. I find that the added sweetness and fizziness make it a pleasant, fun drink. It makes it taste like a wine cooler, but I think it's called a spritzer when you add soda.

I admit that I only use about one-third of a glass of Pinot Grigio and two-thirds Sprite. I like to relax with a bit of wine, but I can’t drink it unless I can actually enjoy the taste.

jholcomb
Post 2

@MrsWinslow - It can be aged either way, although I think it's more common to find chardonnay that's been aged in oak than it is to find pinot aged that way. Your typical grocery store pinot grigio brands will usually be stainless steel (but I guess you know that, because otherwise they would cost a lot more). I find that they can make a nice light white table wine.

You can also get some nice pinot grigio at Virginia wineries, which don't have the national reputation they deserve in my opinion.

MrsWinslow
Post 1

I've always heard that pinot grigio is fairly similar to chardonnay. Is pinot grigio aged in stainless steel barrels, oak barrels, or either one? I like chardonnay either way depending on what I'm eating--the oak makes it taste fuller and buttery. (Also makes it a lot more expensive!)

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