Guide to Pinot Grigio – Popular Wine of Italy
Famous, easy to drink & healthy and refreshing, the italian Pinot Grigio is a zesty wine enjoyed with great success in various countries, most recently the america and Australia.
Italy’s most incredible white wine is produced from the Pinot Grigio grape varietal. Pinot Grigio is most often found in the northeastern part of Italy in the regions of the Veneto, Trentino, and Alto-Adige. Pinot Grigio is more than just the Italian name for Pinot Gris. Although the two names refer to a single grape variety, the wine styles they represent are clearly distinct from one another. The difference between Pinot Grigio wines and Pinot Gris wines is so clear and well-established that the two are often treated as if they were two distinct varieties. 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 is used to make white wine, but the skins of these grapes are actually rosy-blue in color. There are plenty of bland bottles out there, but in good hands, Pinot Grigio can be up there with the classics of the world. At its best, it will be dry with hints of melon and peanut shell and will retain its signature slightly golden color that puts the ‘Grigio’ in the name. Bottlings by Venica & Venica in Friuli or Elena Walch in Alto Adige will show you how good this stuff can be.
Pinot Grigio is produced in other parts of Italy too—Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli, which is home to some of the country’s best wines (as well as some of its worst). In general, Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, high-acid, delicate white, although the top producers turn out wines that have more of everything: more intense aromas, flavor and weight—though no Pinot Grigio is ever as rich and full-bodied as a Pinot Gris, the French wine made with the same grape. Yet the Italians dominate by virtue of amount: There’s a lot more Grigio than Gris.
Popularity around the world
It is so famous around the world. One of the downsides of the seemingly endless love affair that wine consumers have with the Pinot Grigio style is that we now see far too many high volume, industrially made, diluted, bland but easily gluggable Pinot Grigio wines, which in my opinion does this noble variety a great disservice.
But thankfully, in the sea of Pinot Grigio wines there are many that still stand for quality displaying typicity, balance and a sense of place. The refreshing Pinot Grigio style has enjoyed great success in various countries, most recently the United States, (where it is fondly nicknamed “Greej”) and Australia. The most common descriptors of the style are “light”, “crisp” and “dry”. These characteristics are complemented by aroma notes citing lemon, green apple and blossoms.
Of course, there are plenty of people with very positive feelings about Pinot Grigio. After all, it’s the most popular imported wine in this country: More than 6 million cases were sold in 2002, accounting for an impressive 12 percent of all imported wines. And those numbers have only increased: Sales of Pinot Grigio rose almost 40 percent that year and have likely grown larger yet as a boom in domestic Pinot Grigios gets under way (more than 7,000 acres of Pinot Grigio were planted in California in 2004, an increase of 20 percent from 2003)
Italy – Veneto, Valdadige, Collio (Pinot Grigio)
France – Alsace (Pinot Gris)
Oregon – Willamette Valley (Pinot Gris)
California – Arroyo Seco (Pinot Gris & Grigio)
How it is different from Pinot Gris?
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are in fact the exact same grape variety. It is a white grape, with a grayish / brownish pink skin (hence the name gris, or gray, in French). The grape originated in France (it’s from the Burgundian Pinot family), and is known as Pinot Gris in France, where it is most cultivated in Alsace. Across the border in Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio. While French in origin, it is really the Italians that we have to thank for bringing such huge global recognition and fame to the variety.
Although Pinot Grigio is a safe bet when you want an easy-drinking, light wine, some brands stand out among others. One of the best-known and well-loved brands is Santa Margharita, which has a distinctive label with a bronze drawing of what appears to be an Italian villa. It appears on many wine lists in upscale restaurants, but be prepared for a significant mark-up. Such price increases are common because Pinot Grigio wine sells so well, so be sure to do your research before committing to a really expensive bottle.
The grapes were hand-selected at optimum ripeness in September and gently pressed to retain the delicacy in the wine. The juice was then cool-fermented at 20° C (68° F) for about 15 days, then aged for 4 months to enhance the complexity. To ensure acidity and crispness, the malolactic fermentation was not performed. The wine was aged in stainless steel, not oak, as it is designed to be consumed while young and fresh. – See more at: http://www.danzantewines.com/pinot-grigio.html#sthash.ETi5zVMj.dpuf
Flavors – Types of Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is not just the zippy mouth-moisturizer you might have assumed. There are actually 3 main types that have some notable differences between them. Let’s take a closer look at the ‘gray’ grape, Pinot Gris.
Minerally & Dry Pinot Grigio
This style is most famous from the northern parts of Italy and traverses the foothills of the Alps nearly all the way from Italy through Austria and even Romania, Slovenia and Hungary. 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.
Fruity & Dry Pinot Gris
Winemakers often choose the word Pinot Gris to describe this fruit-driven style of Pinot Gris. You’ll be able to pick out lemon, yellow apple and white peach among the flavors that you smell.
Fruity & Sweet
Perhaps the only place in the world that makes a quality sweeter-style Pinot Gris is Alsace, France. For centuries Alsace attempted to recreate the intensely sweet white wine called Tokaji (‘toe-kye’) drunk by kings in Transylvania and the Ottoman empire (now Hungary). In fact, up until 2007, Alsace could use the words ‘Tokay d’Alsace’ on their bottles of Pinot Gris!
Food Pairing – Serving Suggestions
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.
Beneficial to health
If you prefer a light Pinot Grigio, you are missing out on many of the antioxidants found in grape skin, like resveratrol, which may help keep you get slim as well as protect your heart. There are less flavonoids, beneficial micro-nutrients found in the skins as well. All that being said, there have been few studies comparing the two. The whites with the highest amounts of flavonoids are made from granache blanc grapes in the Mediterranean regions: Spain, southern France, and Sardinia. Regardless of the shade of wine you prefer, to reap the health benefits of the wine, women should limit their intake of wine to one glass a day.