Type of Wine: Light bodied white with high acidity and low tannins.
Origin: Pinot Grigio is the Italian white wine most widely recognized by consumers. It is grown most prominently in the Friuli and to a lesser extent the Alto-Adige and Veneto regions of Northern Italy. Pinot Grigio is also grown widely in Europe under the following names: Pinot Gris Germany (Ruländer), Alsace, France (Tokay d'Alsace) and Eastern Europe (Tokaji). The wine is almost universally sold as a straight varietal though Viognier is being increasingly added to boost aromas and fragrance sensations. Recent DNA testing has shown that Pinot Grigio is a distant relative to Pinot Noir.
Color: Pinot Grigio wines are either a pale straw yellow or a very light copper. The color difference depends on the amount of time the skin is in contact with the juice once the grapes have been pressed. In both cases, an occasional pinkish tinge around the edges will be apparent when the wine is very young.
Description: These thin-skinned grapes produce wines that are marked by their dryness, crispness and acidity. This combination gives the grape tremendous mouth-watering appeal. On the nose the sensations are of flowers and the palate is honey, pear and lemon.
Aging: This is a wine that (unlike Chardonnay) does not benefit from aging in oak barrels. Instead, fermentation typically occurs in steel vats so that the delicate fruit complexity of the wine is not lost. Pinot Grigio should be consumed young in its life, usually within a year or two of the vintage.
Best Location: As with most varietals, warm days followed by cool nights build acidity and round fruit flavors.
Planting: The grapes were planted with a northern exposure. This aspect provides the benefit of a cool-down period from the intense summer heat. These cooler temperatures allow for the “grapes to rest” and not deplete the vines of their acids and flavor compounds through avoiding over-respiration.
Food Pairings: A perfect aperitivo, Pinot Grigio's crispness primes the palate for food. It pairs well with all seafood, whether raw, lightly sautéed, grilled or lightly sauced with cream or butter. It is best to avoid the acid clashes of citrus fruit and tomatoes.
See our general thoughts on food and wine pairings