Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris is a rusty pink colored grape, a mutated clone of Pinot Noir, and most often makes a white wine. I will frequently seek opportunities to use rosé versions of Pinot Gris because, I love rosé, and many people are unaware that it can be made of these grapes. In the New World the choice to call it Gris or Grigio is based on the style the winemaker is modeling, French inspired or Italian, and can be difficult to determine by looking solely at the label. I can recommend a few generalizations to help. Climate plays a critical factor on the body of a Pinot Gris seek warmer climates if you seek a more weighty style.
Pinot Gris is an aromatic white wine, citrus and green apple aromas are common, usually light to medium bodied, refreshing and easy sipping aperitif styles are the goal. The wines are rarely oak aged, because the style is best suited to retain acidity, and the aromas are a very pleasant aspect of the wine. However, when fully ripe grapes are selected, in the best vintages, the wines show a richness on the palette, a creamy texture, especially among my personal favorites produced in Alsace, France (often labelled Tokay d'Alsace).
Pinot Grigio is also widely planted, and commonly in the new world it will show in a light sippable style similar to those produced in northern Italy like the Alto Adige. Many of our domestic producers were introduced to Pinot Grigio of Italian style, and label them as such. In the new world, marketing shows Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris sells better than say, Grauburgunder or Rulӓnder, as it is named in Baden, Germany. Though, those styles are delightful, and I urge you to try them.
In my events, I frequently show a Pinot Blanc as a white wine, with a rosé of Pinot Gris, (because it can be pink)and a red Pinot Noir, this allows us the opportunity to discuss three of the Pinot Noir mutations at the event. Want to try?