A Quick Guide to Italy's White Wine: Pinot Grigio

Madeleine Angevine Grapes
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Pinot Grigio goes by several different names, depending on which country it's referencing. For example, it's called Pinot Grigio in Italy, Pinot Gris in France, Grauer Burgunder in Germany, and Grauburgunder in Austria. Italy's most popular white wine is produced from the Pinot Grigio grape varietal. This refreshing drink comes from a rose berry skin with origins in Burgundy, France. Its roots in Italy, however, run deep in the northeast regions of Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli.

Pronounced as Pee-noh Gree-Jhee-oh, this white wine is often light, crisp, and dry with plenty of zippy, mouth-watering acidity. You are likely to taste a sweet, if not semi-sweet taste, as well. Most Pinot Grigio's are also fresh and fruity with the intention to be served cold and consumed young.

Flavor Profile 

Pinot Grigio aromas run the gamut with components of lemon-lime, apple, and pear, or stone fruit factors like peach and apricot—especially in warmer climates. There are also hallmark scents of almond, baking spices, or honeysuckle that make 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. In regards to 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 and almost silk-like overtones that leave an impression on the palate.

Pinot Grigio as a whole tends toward 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. This typically shows a richer texture throughout the delivery.

Food Pairing

Pinot Grigio pairs extremely well with seafood like shellfish, sushi, and ceviche. The white wine also tastes delicious with light pasta dishes and assorted cheese combinations. Since this wine is fairly acidic itself, it is recommended to avoid pairing it with foods that have high acid contents, like citrus fruits or tomato-based recipes.

Perfect for pairing with a medley of fresh herbs and veggie options, Pinot Grigio's often laid-back style allows a variety of foods to steal its spotlight. The wine offers a delicious versatility when it comes to handling trickier salad and appetizer options. You can't go wrong with choice cheese pairings like Muenster, Gruyere, and Manchego. While you can dabble around with pairings that satisfy your taste buds, it's suggested to steer clear of hot and spicy fare which can often clash in flavor.

Key Pinot Grigio Producers

Remember that the best Pinot Grigio wines will be light-bodied, dry and crisp, and have sweet flavors like citrus, green apple, or honey. Check out the following recommended white wines that have good ratings amongst wine enthusiasts and Pinot Grigio fans. Buon appetito!

  • 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