Pinot Grigio is a predominantly Italian wine, but it actually originates in France and dates back to the Middle Ages where it was originally called ‘Pinot Gris’. It eventually made its way to Switzerland before landing in Northern Italy, where its production grew and eventually found acceptance with the rest of the world. Today, Pinot Grigio is also produced in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Austria and Germany, and less common but still present, South Africa and Argentina.
Today, you can find bottles labeled both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris, and while the grapes are the same, the styles of wine produced are quite different, but we will get into that a bit more later.
Pinot Grigio Tasting Notes
Pinot Grigio is a classic, simple golden white wine. What it lacks in complexity it makes up for in clean, refreshing acidity and tart fruit flavor. Its light, lean body and low alcohol (11-13.5 ABV) is part of its appeal. You will typically find notes of apple, pear, lemon and lime up front, with hints of almond, honey and mineral aspects. Soft floral aromatics, along with honey and baking spices may also be present.
Pinot Grigio Styles
Lean & Dry Pinot Grigio
These styles typically come from cooler climates like Austria, Italy and Canada. They are bright with a citrus-focused acidity and a clean minerality.
Dry & Fruit-Forward Pinot Grigio
This style is less acidic and richer, with white peach, green apple and Meyer lemon notes and strong aromatics. You will also notice an oilier texture in place of the acidity. These styles are often labeled as ‘Pinot Gris’ and are generally produced in warmer climates such as Australia, New Zealand, and California.
Sweet & Fruity Pinot Grigio
Sweet and fruity is the style born to Alsace, France and rarer than the others. Winemakers in this region use noble rot grapes to amplify the sweetness and bring out the bold fruit flavors of apple, cinnamon honeycomb, ginger and lemon. This style is lush, rich and full of flavor.
Pinot Grigio Blends
Zibibbo – Pinot Grigio
This is a rare blend produced in Sicily. Zibibbo is part of the Muscat family and what it lacks in aromatics it makes up for in sweetness. The Pinot Grigio brings in the citrus and pear aromas, and a bit of acidity.
Chardonnay – Pinot Grigio
This blend does not play by any rules so you may find blends that are half and half, or blends that are predominately one or the other. The Chardonnay brings body and structure to the light Pinot Grigio, while the Pinot Grigio brings the aromatics.
Serving Pinot Grigio
If you are looking for a great wine to sip through the summer, Pinot Grigio is an excellent choice. Served at a temperature of 45-49°F or 7-9°C, this wine will come alive with refreshing acidity and bright flavors of green apple, lemon and pear. Simply place the bottle in a refrigerator for two hours prior to serving or in an ice water bath for 30-40 minutes if you are short on time. Take care to not over-chill your wine; serve it too cold and the flavor and aroma will be dulled.
There is also no need to decant your Pinot Grigio as the wine will gain nothing from decanting. Simply pour into a standard white wine glass—preferably stemmed to prevent the wine warming in your hand—and sip away!
Aging Pinot Grigio
Most white wines are meant to be drunk young and not cellaring, and Pinot Grigio is no exception. Acidity is one of the key factors when it comes to aging white wine and, unfortunately, it is a characteristic that Pinot Grigio lacks. This does not mean you cannot drink a bottle of Pinot Grigio that you have holding onto. While it won’t reap the benefits of aging, if stored in the right conditions, your bottle of Pinot Grigio will still taste fresh and delicious for 2 to 3 years after the vintage.
And just what are those right storage conditions? An area of your home that is consistently cool, with low humidity is where you want to start. It should also be in a low-traffic area, as any vibrations will cause chemical disruptions within the wine and ruin the structure. Bottles should also be stored on their side, not upright. This will keep the cork moist from the wine, which is imperative for long-term storage. Once a cork dries out, it will shrivel and expose the wine to air which will ruin it.
Average Price of Pinot Grigio
Being one of the most popular white wines means it is also easily accessible. There is a considerable variety of cheap, mass-produced Pinot Grigios found at your local supermarket, but these are generally going to be lesser quality. On the flip side, you can also spend hundreds of dollars on a premium bottle. The good news is, when it comes to Pinot Grigio, you don’t have to break the bank to get a quality wine. There is a plethora of great quality bottles for as little as $15 and up to $30.
Fun Facts about Pinot Grigio
- Pinot Grigio was the favorite wine of the emperor of Switzerland in the 1300’s.
- The second most popular white wine in America, behind Chardonnay.
- Named for its gray-purple grapes.
- This grape shares a genetic footprint with Pinot noir and Pinot Blanc.
Pinot Grigio Grapes