Italy's most popular white wine is produced from the Pinot Grigio grape varietal (dubbed Pinot Gris in France). Pinot Grigio's roots run deep in Italy's northeast regions of Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli. Typically a light, crisp, dry white wine with plenty of zippy, mouth-watering acidity, most Pinot Grigios are fresh and fruity, intended to be served cold and consumed young.
Pinot Grigio aromas run the gamut with lemon-lime themes, to apple and pear, or stone fruit factors (like peach and apricot - especially in warmer climates), with the hallmark aromas of almond, baking spices, or honeysuckle making its mark.
Flavors can range from melon to pear and some even offer a subtle tropical or citrus fruit, often there is a honey or smoky flavor component as well. As for color, Pinot Grigio is typically a pale, straw-like yellow with some golden hues thrown in. The texture of a Pinot Grigio is worth noting, as it has very smooth, almost silk-like overtones that leave an impression on the palate.
Pinot Grigio tends towards a leaner body style in Italy. However, the same grape in France (Alsace is tops for Pinot Gris), Germany, California, Oregon and other New World areas often lean a bit fuller-bodied than their Italian cousins, typically showing a richer texture throughout the delivery.
Pinot Grigio pairs extremely well with seafood (think shellfish, sushi, ceviche), light pasta dishes and assorted cheese combinations. Since this wine is fairly acidic itself, avoid pairing with foods that have high acid contents, like citrus fruits or tomato-based recipes.
Perfect for pairing with a medley of fresh herb and veggie options, Pinot Grigio's often laid back style allows a variety of foods to steal the spotlight. It offers delicious versatility for handling trickier salad and appetizer options. Choice cheese pairings include Muenster, Gruyere, and Manchego.
A quick word of Pinot Grigio caution: steer clear of hot, spicy fare.
*Pinot Grigio, goes by several different names, depending on which country is talking about it - Pinot Grigio (Italy), Pinot Gris (France), Grauer Burgunder (Germany) and Grauburgunder (Austria).
Key Pinot Grigio Producers to Try
14 Hands, A to Z, Abbazia di Novacella, Bethel Heights, Chehalem, Domaine Zind Hunbrecht, Elena Walch, Eyrie Vineyards, Hugel, King Estate, Peter Lehmann, Portlandia, Ruffino, Santa Margherita, Tiefenbrunner, WillaKenzie
Pronunciation: Pee-noh Gree-Jhee-oh / Pee-noh Gree