What’s the Difference Between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio?
Perhaps you already know that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same wine. What’s surprising is that the gray-red grape that makes these wines is a mutation of Pinot, the mysterious mother grape to all ‘Pinot’ wines (e.g. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris etc). Pinot Gris is famous for its refreshing citrus flavor and zesty acidity. Learn more about Pinot Gris wine; its taste and some great food pairing recommendations.
Want to know Pinot Grigio Calories?
Since the grape has had cultural significance in both Italy and France, we use the words ‘Pinot Gris’ and ‘Pinot Grigio’ interchangeably throughout the article.
Guide to Pinot Gris Wine
Pinot Grigio Wine Taste
The primary fruit flavors in Pinot Grigio are lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and apple. Depending on where the grapes are grown, Pinot Grigio can take on faint honeyed notes; floral aromas like honeysuckle; and a saline-like minerality. Pinot Grigio doesn’t have a strikingly unique flavor the way Moscato or Riesling do, but it does offer a refreshing twinkle of acidity and a weighty feeling on the middle of your tongue – like licking wax paper.
- Italian Pinot Grigio Usually totally dry with brilliant acidity with a bitter almond note
- French Pinot Gris Fleshy and more unctuous with faint honey notes from botrytis
- American Pinot Grigio Often with more exaggerated fruit flavors and with less acidity than European counterparts
Is Pinot Grigio Dry or Sweet?
It’s Dry: Pinot Grigio often tastes less sweet than Chardonnay because of high acidity.
Exceptions to the rule: There are two examples where Pinot Grigio is sweet. One example is cheap supermarket Pinot Grigio designed to woo mid-week wine drinkers. The second (and considerably more rare) are the slightly sweet Pinot Gris from Alsace.
Alsace Pinot Gris wines must be made with 100% Pinot Gris grapes and they taste very complex. You’ll discover spice notes of cinnamon, honey, clove, meyer lemon and ginger paired with a looooong tingly aftertaste. Look for the words ‘Vendages Tardives’ as a late harvest (even sweeter) dessert wine option.
Find out more about the Alsace Wine Region
Pinot Gris Wine Characteristics
- FRUIT FLAVORS (berries, fruit, citrus)
- Lime, Green Apple, Lemon, Meyer Lemon, Pear, White Nectarine, White Peach
- OTHER AROMAS (herb, spice, flower, mineral, earth, other)
- Almond, Honeysuckle, Honey, Saline, Clove, Ginger, Spice
- Medium High – High
- SERVING TEMPERATURE
- “Ice-Cold” 45 ºF (7 ºC)
- SIMILAR VARIETIES
- Albariño, Pinot Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, Vinho Verde, Silvaner, Muscadet, White Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc
- Grauburgunder (Germany), Grauer Burgunder (Austria), Tokay d’Alsace (old name used in Alsace, France)
Pinot Gris Food Pairing
Go fresh. Pinot Gris with its zesty and refeshing acidity pairs really well with fresh vegetables, raw fish and lighter meals. Fish and shellfish are classic pairing partners with Pinot Gris.
Need some ideas? Try ceviche, sushi, moule-frites, or even light flaky tilapia with cream sauce. Pinot Gris from the US and Australia can stand up to richer dishes (like cream) because of their body and often heightened alcohol level . Try not to go too spicy with your seasonings unless you have a bottle of Alsace Pinot Gris close by.
Fish including Tilapia, Scallops, Sea Bass, Perch, Sole, Haddock, Trout, Cod, Redfish, Halibut, Snapper, Mussels, Clams, Oysters. White meats including Chicken and Turkey. Cured/spiced meats made from pork and duck.
Spices and Herbs
Parsley, Mint, Tarragon, Thyme, Fennel, Chives, and Spices including White Pepper, Coriander, Fennel, Turmeric, Saffron, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice
Look for semi-soft to firm cow’s and sheep’s milk cheeses. Gruyere, Muenster, Grana Padano
Vegetables & Vegetarian Fare
Fresh vegetables and salads as well as braised and well-spiced greens. Use shallot, garlic and ginger as a flavor base. Cucumber, yellow squash, celery, onion, parsnip, jicama, kale, green apple, green melon, white beans, cauliflower, broccoli
Pinot Grigio Wine Regions
About 71,000 acres of Pinot Grigio planted worldwide.
- Italy: 25,000 acres
- Trentino, Alto Adige, Veneto
- US ~16,000 acres
- California, Oregon
- Germany 12,500 acres
- Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Baden
- France: 6,000 acres
- Found mostly in Alsace
- Australia: 7,000 acres
- Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills, Orange, Mornington Peninsula
- New Zealand: 3,700 acres
- Austria: 550 acres
- Burgenland, Steiermark
- Other Regions:
- Hungary (called: Szürkebarat, Grauer Mönch), Romania (called: Rulandac Sivi)