Pinot Grigio is one of the most popular white wine grape varieties out there today. This Pinot Grigio Wine Guide is part of our grape variety series. Learn about what Pinot Grigio tastes like, its origin, calories, food pairings and fun facts about this typically dry white wine grape varietal. Pinot Grigio is also Pinot Gris.
What’s the Deal with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris?
These terms are often used interchangeable these days. Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are in fact the same grape variety, though Pinot Grigio is the Italian designation while Pinot Gris is the French designation. Italian Pinot Grigio tends to err on the side of citrus and tree fruit flavors, while French Pinot Gris is sometimes more associated with tropical fruit flavors. This depends on a variety of factors, including terroir, harvest time and styles of vinification.
Outside of France and Italy, Pinot Grigio tends to be the typical go-to name, but this is purely the winemakers stylistic and branding decision.
Guide to Pinot Grigio Wine
Pinot Grigio is a white wine grape variety that is made from grapes with grayish, white red, and or purple skins. (Hence, the French ‘Gris,’ or ‘Gray’). The Pinot Grigio and Gris grapes are known to be somewhat genetically unstable, so consistency in grape color is not prominent (as seen in the photo right by Navarro Vineyards). So why isn’t my Pinot Grigio more red you ask?? Well, that’s because Pinot Grigio and Gris is made from the grape flesh, and isn’t allowed the opportunity to meld excessively with the gray, purple and blue skins.
Pinot Grigio Taste and Flavor Profile
More ripe Pinot Grigio wines will often err towards the side of tropical and tree fruit flavors, while less mature grapes will have more prominent hints of citrus fruit. Pinot Grigio is almost always made to be a dry white wine with either a light or medium body. No matter what body you find Pinot Grigio in, the best wines are crisp, refreshing and well balanced overall with moderate acid and complex fruit flavors.
They are often higher in acid, especially in old world wine growing regions like France. Note that specific flavor of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio isn’t so simple to pin down. That’s because it depends on different styles of wine making and growing regions. Common fruit flavors include lime, pear, peach, nectarine and lemon. Some wines will have light sandy mineral tilts to them, along with subtle notes of honey and ginger. Some Vintners also choose to utilize botrytis, which is a form of rot that causes grapes to dehydrate, while both maintaining and enhancing sugar concentration. Scroll down for more detailed tasting notes for Pinot Grigio.
What does Pinot Grigio Wine Taste Like, Specifically?
Common Flavors and Aromas
- Fruit: Citrus Fruit, Tree Fruit, Tropical Fruit
- New World: Tropical & Tree Fruit dominant (passion fruit, pear, dragon fruit, peach, nectarine, lime)
- Old World: Citrus Fruit Dominant (lime, lemon, pear, green apple, peaches)
- Earth & Mineral Notes: Limestone, Clay, Sand
- Additional Complexities: Ginger, Honey, Almond, Cracked Pepper, Arugula
- Body: Light-Medium
- Sugar: Dry
- Tannins: Low
- Acid: Medium-High
- Alcohol: Varied (10%-14.5% ABV – low calorie Pinot Gris can have as little as 9% ABV!)
- Finish: Medium
- Soil: Limestone, Silt, Gravel, Clay, Gravel, Sand
- Climate: Cool
- Notable Regions: Alsace, France | Mendoza, Argentina | Napa Valley, California | Sonoma County, California | Trentino, Italy
Pinot Grigio Calories
On average, there are about 120 calories in one 5 ounce glass of Pinot Grigio. Lower calorie Pinot Grigio’s can be found if the Vintner chooses to harvest the grapes a couple of weeks early. These low calorie Pinots are often lower in alcohol and are typically not as complex, since there is a smaller sugar concentration in less mature Pinot Grigio grapes.
Pinot Grigio Food Pairing
Being the lighter bodied, crisp and high acid wine Pinot Grigio is, it goes very well with foods that are along the same lines. Pairing Pinot Grigio with fish and grilled vegetables is incredibly popular. Consider including tomato based or aged cheese pasta dishes, like four cheese Risotto.
White fish works best. Chilean sea-bass, bluefish, haddock, tilapia, snapper or red fish are all good choices. Shell fish are also great, particularly oyster, either raw or fried with lemon and lime. Try utilizing ginger, oregano, cracked white and black pepper and garlic as you prepare your dishes. I even marinate some fish with the Pinot Grigio I’m drinking itself.