Introduction to Pinot Noir Wines

Pinot Noir Clusters
photo by jim fischer. / Getty Images

Pinot Noir may be the toughest grape to grow, but the effort is often well worth the constant care and investment. It is a fickle grape that demands optimum growing conditions, opting for warm days consistently supported by cool evenings. As for style, Pinot Noir is typically a light to medium bodied, fruit-forward red wine.

Pinot Noir is Burgundy's most famous noble grape. Known and loved as "Red Burgundy" in much of the world, Pinot Noir can be among the most elegant wines coming out of France.

Today, Pinot Noir is planted in regions around the world including Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, France, Spain, Germany, and Italy.

Due to the stringent growing requirements for Pinot Noir, it is produced in much smaller quantities than other popular red wines. Traditionally, you will also pay a little more for Pinot Noir, as the “supply and demand” theories kick in. However, there are several producers that hit right at the $10 mark that is worth checking out. Mark West, Robert Mondavi Private Selection, Cupcake, and Mirrasou are among the best budget Pinots, check out our Value Pinot Noir Reviews. If you want some real time recommendations on our favorite Pinot Noirs (at varying price points), then take a peek at our Top 10 Pinot Picks here. Keep in mind that the aging potential for most Pinot Noir doesn't compete with Cabernet Sauvignon and some of the most tannic reds where the stronger build makes for a more age worthy wine.


Flavor Profile

Pinot Noir is a dry, red wine that typically exhibits fruit-forward character with strawberry, cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit taking the cake for palate presence. Notable earth-driven layers are also quite common in a glass of Pinot, with herbal, mushroom, leather, and game-like qualities being fairly familiar.

Warm spice notes also make their way into the Pinot Noir palate profile, often in the form of cinnamon, clove and smoky, tobacco nuances.

Pairing Pinot with Food

Enjoying a red wine palate profile in a white wine style, the lighter-bodied, rich fruit character components of many Pinots give it a step up in the glasses of both red wine and white wine drinkers. Pinot Noir is well-suited to pair with a wide variety of ethnic dishes, classic cuisines, and traditional foodie favorites, thanks in large part to its consistent acidity, subtle, silky tannins and lighter-bodied style. Perfect Pinot pairings include pork and poultry, beef and bacon, cheese and chocolate, fish, lamb, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and wild game. ​Pinot Noir plays well with creamy sauces, spicy seasonings and is considered by many to be one of the world's most versatile food wines. Looking for some delicious Pinot pairing recipes to get you started? Check out our favorites here.

Key Pinot Noir Producers to Try

  • A to Z
  • Adelsheim
  • Amity
  • Archery Summit
  • Argyle
  • Bethel Heights
  • Bouchaine
  • Bonterra
  • Cambria
  • Calera
  • Cono Sur
  • Craggy Range
  • David Family
  • De Loach
  • Domaine Carneros
  • Domaine Drouhin
  • Etude
  • ForeFront by Pine Ridge
  • Gary Farrell
  • J Vineyards
  • King Estate
  • MacMurray
  • Mark West
  • Mondavi
  • Saintsbury
  • Sebastiani
  • Veramonte
  • Villa Maria

Pronunciation: Pee-noh-n'wahr

Also Known As: Red BurgundyPinot Nero, Blauburgunder, Spätburgunder