What is Pinot Grigio Wine?

Pinot Grigio is a white wine grape variety that is made from grapes with grayish, white red, and or purple skins.  (Hence, the French ‘Gris,’ or ‘Gray’).  The Pinot Grigio and Gris grapes are known to be somewhat genetically unstable, so consistency in grape color is not prominent (as seen in the photo below by Navarro Vineyards).

So why isn’t my Pinot Grigio more red you ask? Well, that’s because Pinot Grigio and Gris is made from the grape flesh, and isn’t allowed the opportunity to meld excessively with the gray, purple and blue skins during fermentation.

 

Pinot Grigio Wine Taste Description | What's the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris? | Winetraveler.com
Pinot Grigio grape color can vary in clusters on the vine, as seen here at Navarro Vineyards.

The Flavors of Pinot Grigio

More ripe Pinot Grigio wines will often err towards the side of tropical and tree fruit flavors, while less mature grapes will have more prominent hints of citrus fruit. Pinot Grigio is almost always made to be a dry white wine with either a light or medium body. No matter what body you find Pinot Grigio in, the best wines are crisp, refreshing and well balanced overall with moderate acidity and complex fruit flavors.

Depending on quality and production methods, you may encounter some versions with elevated acidity. Especially in old world wine growing regions like France.  

Note that the specific taste of Pinot Grigio isn’t so simple to pin down.  That’s because the ultimate flavor depends on production methods and the region the grapes are grown in. Common fruit flavors include lime, pear, peach, nectarine and lemon.  Some wines will have light sandy mineral tilts to them, along with subtle notes of honey and ginger. Some Vintners also choose to utilize botrytis, which is a form of rot that causes grapes to dehydrate, while maintaining and enhancing sugar concentration.  

What’s The Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris?

These terms are often used interchangeable these days.  Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are in fact the same grape variety, though Pinot Grigio is the Italian designation while Pinot Gris is the French designation.  Italian Pinot Grigio tends to err on the side of citrus and tree fruit flavors, while French Pinot Gris is sometimes more associated with tropical fruit flavors.  This depends on a variety of factors, including terroir, harvest time and styles of vinification.

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Outside of France and Italy, Pinot Grigio tends to be the typical go-to name, but this is purely the winemakers stylistic and branding decision.

How Many Calories Are in a Glass of Pinot Grigio?

On average, there are about 120 calories in one 5 ounce glass of Pinot Grigio.  Lower calorie Pinot Grigio’s can be found if the Vintner chooses to harvest the grapes a couple of weeks early.  These low calorie Pinots are often lower in alcohol and are typically not as complex, since there is a smaller sugar concentration in less mature Pinot Grigio grapes.

Pinot Grigio Wine Food Pairing | Winetraveler.com
We caught red fish down in Key West, Florida and grilled it up with a cajun rub while sipping Pinot Grigio on the side.  We added blue cheese crumbles once cooked through and made red fish burgers!

Pinot Grigio Food Pairing

Being the lighter bodied, crisp and high acid wine that it is, Pinot Grigio goes very well with a variety of seafoods, grilled vegetables and pasta dishes. 

White fish works best, seasoned with lemon, lime and butter. Chilean sea-bass, bluefish, haddock, tilapia, snapper or red fish are all good choices.  

Shell fish are also great, particularly oysters, either raw or fried with lemon and lime. Try utilizing ginger, oregano, cracked white and black pepper and garlic as you prepare your dishes. I even marinate some fish with the Pinot Grigio I’m drinking itself.

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Fruit

Citrus Fruit, Tree Fruit, Tropical Fruit

  • New World: Tropical & Tree Fruit dominant (passion fruit, pear, dragon fruit, peach, nectarine, lime)
  • Old World: Citrus Fruit Dominant (lime, lemon, pear, green apple, peaches)

Earth & Mineral Notes

Limestone, Clay, Sand

Additional Complexities

Ginger, Honey, Almond, Cracked Pepper, Arugula

Structure & Body

Pinot Grigio Wine Profile

Body Light-Medium

Sugar Dry

Tannins Low

Acid Medium-Plus

Alcohol (10%-14.5% ABV - Low calorie Pinot Gris can have as little as 9% ABV!)

Finish Short-Medium

Seafood (Fish & Shellfish)

Grilled Vegetables

Pasta

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