Pinot Grigio wine, also known as Pinot Gris, is one of the most popular white wines in the world. It is a simple, clean, and refreshing wine likened to a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.
In this article, we will discover what Pinot Grigio is, what makes it unique, and how you can make the most of the wine when it comes to the perfect food pairings.
What is Pinot Grigio?
Pinot Grigio is a zesty and refreshing white wine. It is dry with flavors of lemon, green apples, lime, and honeysuckle. The wine has a punchy acidity and it is light-bodied.
Pinot Grigio is an Italian term while Pinot Gris is a French term, which means “Gray Pinot.” Unlike green grapes that are commonly used in white wine, Pinot Grigio is made from a grayish-blue of the Pinot grape, which is said to be a mutation of the red grape Pinot Noir.
The white wine is known to have its origins in Burgundy, France, but made its way to Switzerland sometime in the 1300s. There, Pinot Grigio became the favorite of Emperor Charles IV and it grew into popularity in Europe. It then made its way into the northern regions of Italy and it has been recognized that it was there that real Pinot Grigio was born.
The largest Pinot Grigio growing region in the world is in the regions of Northeastern Italy, which include Lombardy, Friuli, the Vento, Alto Adige, and Trentino. Other countries also grow Pinot Grigio, which includes the US, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, France, Canada, and many other nations in the world.
While Pinot Grigio is favored by Italians and Americans, wine snobs have undervalued and underappreciated the drink, partly because of its simplicity and “uninteresting” flavors that are said to lack complexity. And because it’s the most popular white wine in many countries, it has led to the production of some low-quality and mass-produced bottles that have given Pinot Grigio a bad name.
Nevertheless, high-quality Pinot Grigio is very much acknowledged and appreciated the world over, making it one of the most popular and best-selling white wines globally.
How Is Pinot Grigio Unique?
Pinot Grigio is unique because of the way it is harvested. The Pinot Grigio grape is harvested early, not when it becomes ripe.
This is because young grapes retain much more fresh acidity than ripened grapes. Once the grapes ripen, they turn into pinkish color rather than a grayish-blue hue. Once ripened Pinot Grigio is used, the resulting color of the wine becomes a darker shade of golden.
To retain Pinot Grigio’s unique fresh and zesty taste, the juice is fermented and stored in stainless steel tanks.
There are three types of Pinot Grigio, which are minerally and dry, fruity and dry, and fruity and sweet.
- Minerally and Dry
Pinot Grigio which’s minerally and dry typically comes from the steep alpine valleys of Italy and all throughout Hungary, Slovenia, and Austria. The mountains are known to help the grapes maintain their high acidity levels, with the resulting taste being clean, citrusy, and zippy.
- Fruity and Dry
Fruity and dry Pinot Grigio is made through a unique fermentation process.
It has less acidity but provides more fruit aroma of yellow apple, white peach, pear, and lemon. It is also defined as having a more “oily” texture. The unique fermentation process involves adding special bacteria after alcohol fermentation occurs. The process is called Malolactic Fermentation, resulting in smooth-tasting acidity rather than sharp-tasting.
- Fruity and Sweet
For fruity and sweet Pinot Grigio, a later harvest that produces noble rot grapes maximizes the sweeter flavor of the mouthful texture. Popular producers are found in Alsace, France, and they incorporate very advanced winemaking techniques to achieve a blend of flavors with notes of sweet lemon candy, honey crisp apples, and honeycomb.
Pinot Grigio also stands out in the wine industry because it is meant to be consumed within a year or two of harvest. They are not intended to be stored in a cellar or aged to perfection. It’s a simple, direct, and fresh type of white wine.
What Foods Pair Best with Pinot Grigio?
Pinot Grigio is pretty simple to pair with food. Its elevated acidity and freshness work well with fish and shellfish, accentuating the flavors of seafood. However, it’s also perfect with salty flavors and soft cheese, as well as Italian staples of pasta and risotto.
Sushi works well with Pinot Grigio as well as light seafood salads which have prawns or crab. It also goes well with fried fish, Antipasti that is seafood-based, shellfish, and light pasta sauces that have creamy clams.
The next best pairing to Pinot Grigio other than seafood is chicken.
They have the same soft meat texture and both are light on the palate. They’re especially ideal with the wine when marinated in lemon and other citrus flavors. Chicken Alfredo or Parmesan-crusted chicken are great examples of chicken dishes to pair with Pinot Grigio.
Cheeses that are soft and mild go well with Pinot Gris wines. Cow’s milk such as Brie, Gruyere, Reggiano, Parmigiano, and Mozzarella are the best kinds of cheese that go well with Pinot Grigio. Sheep’s milk has also been known to go well with the wine, such as sheep’s milk Gouda, Etorki, Manchego, and Fleur de Marquis.
Appetizers with a soft texture and light flavors are perfect for Pinot Grigio. These include cream-based shrimp, grilled shrimp with avocado and cucumber slices, or simple bruschetta with mozzarella and basil.
Pinot Grigio is one of those wines that are best served chilled. Its most ideal temperature is 48 degrees Fahrenheit, which will enhance its clean, simple, zippy, and refreshing flavors.
Pinot Grigio may be undervalued by wine snobs but it has become the most popular in Northern Italy and the United States where the wine is its most popular white wine import. With producers found all over the world in different regions both in the northern and southern hemispheres, Pinot Grigio is undoubtedly one of the most popular white wines in the world as a casual and everyday drink that pairs well with seafood and soft textured food.