Learning how to pick out a great bottle of Pinot Grigio is not that difficult and something that everyone can quickly become an expert in. Finding a great bottle to enjoy at home or if you are trying to take something along to dinner with friends is no longer going to be a source of stress for you, because you are going to know how to get a great bottle that everyone will enjoy. So many people think that they are not capable of picking out a great bottle of wine because they simply do not know how. Wine can be intimidating, even if you drink it regularly when it comes to picking out a bottle or even talking about what you want. The first thing that you have to remember is that finding the perfect bottle of wine typically takes some trial and error and likely it will take you some time. So, do not worry about taking too long in the wine aisle. If you follow this guide, you are going to understand what you are looking for and you will have the information that you need to make a good decision when you are attempting to find the perfect bottle of wine.

selective focus photography of clear glass wine glass

Of course, if you are reading this, you probably already know that you love to drink wine. One of the most popular white wines is pinot grigio. in the United States, pinot grigio is the second most popular choice. Pinot Grigio is a light and crisp wine that pairs well with everything. However, if you are not sure what to do to purchase this delicious choice, then do not worry. The following will help you to be sure that you can find what you want.

Table of Contents

What Exactly is Pinot Grigio?

First things first, do you know exactly what pinot grigio is? If you do not, you should certainly pay attention to this small section of the article as we explain pinot grigio to you. The pinot grigio white wine grape is from the same family as the pinot grape. There are two different wines that come from the pinot grape, pinot noir, and pinot blanc. There was a genetic mutation that scientists have figured out that caused there to be pinot grigio grapes in the first place.

Understanding the History of Pinot Grigio

The first thing that you should know is that pinot grigio and Pinot Gris are the exact same wine. The only difference is that the pinot grigio grapes grow in Italy and wine the exact same grapes are grown in France, they are called Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris was actually around first and was cultivated during the Middle Ages in Burgundy, France. From there, the wine traveled throughout Europe and eventually throughout the world. Many people do not realize how similar the grapes are that create pinot grigio and pinot noir. They likely originated from the exact same grape centuries ago.

Where Can You Grow Pinot Grigio Grapes?

Today, pinot grigio grapes are grown throughout many places in the world. The bottles that are the most popular among wine connoisseurs are the ones that come from Italy. That does not mean that only the ones from Italy are popular though. Today there are high demand choices coming from California, Hungary, Australia, and Moldova. However, you should not forget the history of the grape and that it was actually first originated in Burgundy, France, but today there is more pinot grigio produced in the northern regions of Italy, the Alsace region of France, and many other places.

The Best Producers of Pinot Grigio Grapes

There are many different things that you should look for when choosing to consider the productions of pinot grigio grapes. While the grape is grown throughout Italy, it is more likely to be seen in the hilly regions that are in the northeast. This is the area of Italy that is by the Dolomite Mountains. Part of what makes this region better for these grapes is that the mountains help to protect the vines from winter’s harsh winds. The breeze that comes in from the Adriatic Sea is warm and this also helps to encourage the grapes to ripen quicker.

The most popular white wine grapes come from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, the Veneto region (this actually stretches from the Dolomite Mountains all the way to the Adriatic Sea), and the Alto Adige region. The pinot grigio wines that are produced here are characterized by a crisp texture, fruity aroma, acidic flavor, and light body. They are the most popular wines.

Today most people think of Italy when they think of pinot grigio. While there is still a lot of wine produced in this area, the Alsace region of France is also starting to produce delicious pinot grigios. This is an area of France that is on the border with Switzerland and Germany. It is where thirteen percent of the wine in the entire world is produced. The reason for this is that the soil is volcanic and the climate is cool which means that you can produce a wine that has a fuller body and stronger flavor than the wines that are produced in Italy.

Characteristics of Pinot Grigio Grapes

Pinot Grigio grapes can actually have different characteristics based on the region where they are grown.

Color of Pinot Grigio Grapes — Pinot Grigio grapes can have a variation in color. Many people refer to these grapes as gray grapes because of their lack of vibrant hues that other grapes have. These grapes are typically a blueish gray color when they are ripe, but they can also be a brownish pink. These grapes grow in small clusters on a vine.

Bouquet of Pinot Grigio Grapes — Pinot Grigio grapes can have a flavor that is a lighter citrusy bouquet or one that is stronger and more floral.

What Does Pinot Grigio Taste Like?

When pinot grigio grapes are turned into wine, the flavors produced are medium bodied to light bodied. They are typically dry and acidic in their flavor profiles as well. However, when the grapes are grown in certain regions, they are medium bodied to full bodied. These wines can become both citrusy and sweet. If you are looking at German bottles of the wine, you will notice when you taste them that they are medium-bodied with balancing acidity and a slight sweetness. They are almost always smooth and silky in texture and they range in color from a deep gold color to a very pale yellow.

Common Flavors in Pinot Grigio Wines

There are many common flavors that you can find in pinot grigio wines. These include:

  1. Apple
  2. Lemon
  3. Lime
  4. Citrus
  5. Stone Fruit (apricots/peaches)
  6. Honeysuckle
  7. Honey
  8. Spices
  9. Almond

Does Pinot Grigio Taste Dry?

Depending on the variety of pinot grigio, it can be a dry white wine. This is the style of pinot grigio that is produced in northern Italy. The area where the pinot grigio grapes are grown is a mountainous region helps them to keep their higher acidity and helps to ensure that lighter bodied dry wine is produced.

Does Pinot Grigio Taste Sweet?

There are some varieties of pinot grigio that are sweeter. These are the ones that have strong hints of candied lemon and Honeycrisp apple. They are developed with grapes that are harvested later. Harvesting the grapes later takes some of the acidity away and creates a stronger flavor profile.

What Should You Look for in a Pinot Grigio?

Depending on the region where the grapes are grown, the style of this white wine can vary. If you choose a bottle from Italy, you will notice that it will have more of the lemon and lime flavors which are called citrus notes. It will also have more salinity. Salinity is the salty flavor that you can taste in some wines. The wines that come from warmer climates, like Australia, are going to have more of the stone fruit notes. These are fruits like peaches and nectarines. If you would like to have the most pleasant wine drinking experience, then you should attempt to imagine the scents of these fruits while you are tasting them. This will make it easier to pick out these different hints from your wine.

What Should You Serve Pinot Grigio With?

Pinot Grigio offers delicious dry flavors that are going to compliment seafood or fish very well. In addition, soft cheeses are going to pair with this type of wine really well. One of the best cheeses to eat with pinot grigio is a triple cream brie. In addition to these, pasta dishes and chicken dishes are often delicious with pinot grigio. Here are some of the best menu items and recipes that you can try with a glass of pinot grigio, some of these are created by award-winning chefs and all that you need to do is Google the recipe and you will be able to delight guests with a truly amazing dinner with a great bottle of wine.

The Best Meals to Have with Pinot Grigio

  • Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Chicken Supreme (try this recipe with the wine, you will be in Heaven!)
  • Fresh mozzarella (or other cheeses that are mild and soft)
  • Prosciutto (or other cured meats)
  • Crudites
  • Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Smoked Salmon Pizza (from Spago it is amazing, but perhaps more impressive would be to make it on your own)
  • Fresh Fruits
  • Raw Bars
  • Seafood
  • Fattier Fishes
  • Pasta Dishes
  • Pesto Sauces (you really have to try this combination!)
  • Green Salads
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Vegetables
Canaletto pinot grigio wine bottle near glass of wine

Three Types of Pinot Grigio

Many people do not realize that there are actually three different types of pinot grigio. In fact, once you know more about these three types, you will be prepared to actually choose a great bottle for your next dinner party. Many people look at pinot grigio as just another wine to enjoy, but really this wine offers more choices and a lot of features that are not present in other types of wine. In fact, there are three different types of pinot grigio and you will be able to distinguish between them and impress friends after understanding a little bit more about them. Many people actually refer to the pinot grigio as the gray grape due to the bland colorless appearance of the grapes that are used to produce this wine.

The Three Main Types of Pinot Grigio

  • Dry and Fruity
  • Sweet and Fruity
  • Dry and Minerally

Dry and Fruity Pinot Grigio

Many people will find that the traditional pinot Gris varieties of pinot grigio are often the dry and fruity tasting wines. The flavors that you will be able to smell and pick out are fruits like peaches, yellow apples, and lemons. When you are drinking this type of wine, it is important to try and pick out these scents before you attempt to pick out the flavors. This will make it much easier for you to actually taste the distinctions. If you notice that there are more fruit flavors, you can assume that the grapes were grown in a region that has more sun exposure. Another thing that you will notice about these wines is that they have a texture that is almost oily and that they are not as acidic as the other choices. The winemakers actually do something to make the pinot grigio less acidic. They use a bacteria strain that is special and actually works to eat the acids that are sharper and then it will basically release the smoother acid as its waste. This type of fermentation is called Malolactic Fermentation because of the malic acid (the harsh acid) being destroyed as the lactic acid (the reason the wine is smooth and oily) is released.

How to Find This Style of Pinot Grigio

If you want to find this style of pinot grigio, then you will want to seek out wines from the following regions:

  • Italy (specifically from the following regions of Italy — Sicily, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Tuscany, and Abruzzo)
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • California
  • Chile
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Argentina

Clues in the Label

There are actually some clues that you can pick up on just by looking for them on the labels. These clues will help you to be able to find a great dry and fruity pinot grigio. One of the things that you should do is to look for wines that are produced in neutral barrels or stainless steel tanks. Then you want to find s a wine that has not aged too long. Most of the time it is more desirable to choose a wine that has been aging longer, but in the case of a dry and fruity pinot grigio, you are going to want to find one that has not aged too long. Finally, look for the words “malolactic fermentation” in the label. This is a great way to ensure that you have a wine that is neutral and not too acidic.

Sweet and Fruity Pinot Grigio

There are actually a few regions where you can find a sweeter style pinot grigio that is high in quality. The best place to look for these wines to come from is Alsace, France because this is the region of the world where this wine was perfected. One of the reasons for this is that many centuries ago, people in Alsace, France actually attempted to make a sweet white wine that was drunk by kings in the Ottoman Empire and Transylvania. This type of wine was called Tokaji. While they were not technically successful, what they did end up creating was a pinot grigio that tastes both sweet and fruity. Up until 2007, there were actually the words “Tokay d’Alsace” on the bottles of the pinot grigio that came from this region in France.

How to Find this Style of Pinot Grigio

Fast forward to today and one thing that you will notice as you experiment and taste more pinot grigio is that this is area (Alsace, France) is the only region in the world where these sweet pinot grigios are being produced. The flavors that you pick up in this style of wine will be Honeycrisp apples, sweet lemon candy, and honeycomb. There are actually some different winemaking techniques that are used in the process that are very advanced. This is through the mouthfeel texture that you only get when you are using noble rot or late harvest grapes to maximize the sweetness potential that the wines have.

Clues in the Label

If you are looking for less sweet styles of the dry and sweet pinot grigio, then you should look for a Pinot Gris or a grand cru Pinot Gris. If you would like to have a very sweet pinot grigio then you will want to look for wines that are a late harvest, called vendange tardive, and styles that are considered to be our best ever, called selection de grains nobles.

Dry and Minerally Pinot Grigio

The pinot grigios that are dry and minerally are the most famous. They are from a wide range of different places including the foothills of the Alps Mountains and the northern parts of Italy. They are also seen throughout other areas of Italy, Romania, Hungary, Austria, and Slovenia. One of the reasons that this wine can be found from so many places is that the mountains are one of the strongest forces in developing agriculture that helps to keep the high acidity level in the grapes. This higher acidity is what will lead to the minerally flavor. This wine is the expert level pinot grigio that so many wine lovers are looking for. It is a great dry white wine to enjoy foods like french fries and mussels. It is also a great white wine to enjoy on summer days when it is hot. It is the style of pinot grigio that you want if you are looking for the simplicity that this wine often features. Many times people describe this wine as having a saline quality or a lack of fruit in the flavor profile.

How to Find this Style of Pinot Grigio

One of the first things that you will look for in this style of pinot grigio is a cooler growing climate for the grapes. This means that you will look for wines from the following regions:

  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy
  • Hungary
  • Veneto and Lombardy, Italy
  • Romania
  • Okanagan, Canada
  • Germany (specifically the Rheingau, Pfalz, and Rheingau regions)

Clues in the Label

There are some clues that you can easily look for in the labels of your pinot grigio if you want to find a bottle that is going to be dry and minerally. Look for wines that are produced in stainless steel tanks. You do not want any type of oak aging or to see the words malolactic fermentation when you are looking for this style of wine. In addition, you can generally look at the alcohol levels and simply by choosing a lower alcohol content, you will generally end up with a wine that features these flavor profiles.  These styles of pinot grigio generally have 10% to 12.5% ABV.

Don’t Forget About the Rose Pinot Grigio

There is a rose version of the pinot grigio wine. It is important that you do not forget about this style if you are wanting to familiarize yourself with pinot grigio. This style of wine is referred to as Ramato. Many people are surprised when they learn that there is actually a rose style pinot grigio. This wine is produced when the pale purple skins of the grapes are used to change the hue of the wine to a pale copper. The way that this is created is that the producers of the wine often just macerate the wine in the juice of the skins for about twenty-four to thirty-six hours. This is the exact same process that is used when making other styles of rose.

How to Find Ramato

Ramato wines are often found in the Friuli, Italy region. There are different flavor profiles that you will find based on the producer. You might experience leather, white raspberry, dried cranberry sweetness as you finish, sour cherry, or meaty notes as you finish.

A Look at the Top Seven Bottles of Pinot Grigio

There are so many different types/brands and varieties of pinot grigio that attempting to find the best one is very difficult. Here we offer you a quick top ten list that you should be able to find and enjoy.

Voga Pinot Grigio — delle Venezie IGT, Italy

One of the things that makes Voga wines instantly distinct is its innovative and unique bottle shapes. They all feature resealable caps which is nice if you are just wanting to sip on a glass of wine. The Delle Venezie IGT region of Italy, where this bottle of wine is produced, is the nation’s most famous region for pinot grigios.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio — Valdadige, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

This is one of the best pinot grigios in the world and one of the most popular bottles. In fact, many credits the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio with being one of the best drinking wines. This is one of the first pinot grigios that was on the market and one that has been popular on a worldwide scale.

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio — Alto Adige, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy

Another wine from the Santa Margherita brand, this is the bottle of wine that was revolutionary and changed the way in which pinot grigio grapes were used to produce wine. All of the wines had that pink color and were fuller bodied prior to Santa Margherita creating this first version of the pinot grigio wine. This was done by producing without the skins and by keeping the temperature lower and making sure that the wines were not fermented for too long.

Pacific Peak Pinot Grigio — California

The Pacific Peak Pinot Grigio is produced in California. While California is known for its sunny and warm weather, one thing that they do for this wine is to use a cold fermentation process. This helps to add a nice blend of flavors and brings out the sweet notes that are often missing from pinot grigio.

Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio — Australia

Yellow Tail wines have become quite the popular choice in the United States and other regions of the world. One of the reasons for this is that they have a nice flavor and they are affordable. Gone are the days of trying to find a high priced bottle of wine, as Yellowtail has high rankings and produces great wines for those living on a budget.

Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio — Morning Sun Vineyard, Sonoma Mountains, California

Swanson Vineyards Pinot Grigio is one of the best wines that you can find to date. This is a great starter pinot grigio and is one that will certainly please chardonnay fans. That is because it has about an eleven percent chardonnay content and an eighty-nine perfect pinot grigio content. It is a wine that features rich flavors of melons, citrus, and vanilla, and has a nice smooth finish.

Da Vinci Pinot Grigio — delle Venezie IGT, Italy

This is another wine that has a small percentage of Chardonnay and is great for beginners. This one is about ninety-five percent pinot grigio and five percent chardonnay, so there is less of the chardonnay in this one. It has nice floral aromas and offers you the flavor of minerals and green apples.

The Future of Pinot Grigios

Today’s pinot grigios are more developed and better produced than some of the ones from the past, even the more recent past. This is because some producers and wineries are starting to experiment with the use of barrel-aging and pinot grigio. This is done in chestnut barrels (not oak!) and is something that you can see in the Slovenian border in Italy and in the Friuli regions.

3 Quick Tips to Pick Pinot Grigio Like an Expert

One of the most stressful things that you might be asked to do is pick up a bottle of wine when you are going to be at a friend’s house for dinner. If you love wine, this probably feels like it should not be a big deal and yet you are still probably feeling some stress in reference to it. In fact, you might feel as though you do not have any idea of how you can choose the right bottle. One great suggestion from many wine experts is to choose a bottle of pinot grigio. You will want your friends and/or family to be impressed by the choices that you end up with. Even if you are a regular consumer of wine, choosing a great bottle to take with you somewhere often has an added layer of pressure. In order to pick up a great bottle of wine, you are going to need to use the following tips to make it easier and quicker.

Tip #1 — Know What You Are Getting

You need to really know and understand pinot grigio if you want to ensure that you are able to pick up a great bottle of wine. The pinot grigio grape is a grape that produces a light and refreshing white wine. However, many people still do not realize that what might be called a pinot grigio in one part of the world might not actually be called something else in another area. If you are looking at bottles of wine from France, you will pick up a pinot gris. However, when you are looking from Italy and other regions it is known as pinot grigio.

Tip #2 — Understand the Varieties

While they are explained above, it still bears mention that you have to understand the three distinct varieties of pinot grigio in order to be able to pick out a great bottle of wine.

Tip #3 — Know the Popularity

Did you know that pinot grigio is actually the second most popular style of white wine in the United States? The first most popular is chardonnay, but pinot grigio has a following that is almost as big and is quickly becoming bigger.

From Grapes to Wine — A Look at Harvesting and Fermentation

One of the things that you should know is that pinot grigio grapes are early harvest grapes. They are then put into large stainless steel tanks to ferment. By using stainless steel tanks, the wine is going to retain a higher level of acidity. This is what gives white wine its preferred zing. In addition to this, you should know that this is one of the quickest white wines to produce. It actually is bottled between four and twelve weeks after fermentation. While some wines take years to ferment before they are bottled, this one is only fermenting for one to three months.

How is Pinot Grigio Different from Sauvignon Blanc?

Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon blanc are two of the different varieties of dry white wine that are crisp. Pinot Grigio does taste a little heavier in the mouth than sauvignon blanc does. It has a sweeter and more perfumed flavor as well. This is especially noticeable when you are tasting them side by side. Sauvignon blanc is a more acidic wine and is crisper, but is generally lighter bodied as well.

How is Pinot Grigio Different from Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine in the entire world. It is a white wine that is characterized as being medium-bodied and has a nice vanilla profile that is rich in flavor. The flavors have hints of smokey oak. One of the things that you will notice if tasting together is that the chardonnay is much heavier and there is nowhere near the level of acidity that you taste in pinot grigios.

Final Notes on Pinot Grigio

Most of us wine lovers probably got our start drinking overly sweet and fruity cheap wines or by snooping through the cabinets of our parents or older relatives. Unless your parents or family are wine connoisseurs, you are likely not going to have a lot of choices and you probably had no clue what you were sampling. It is likely that your journey began with the largest bottles of wine or even the very popular and inexpensive boxed wine. One of the most popular types of wine is pinot grigio, so there is a good chance that this has been one of the white wines that you have been drinking longer than others.

Let’s be honest, too many people still associate pinot grigio with these large bulk produced and cheap batches. However, this is not all that pinot grigio has to offer you. If the wine is produced in the right way, you are going to find that it is an easy white wine to fall in love with. Don’t forget that to find the perfect bottle of pinot grigio that you love, all you have to do is figure out which of the underlying flavors that you prefer. Do you like a wine that is fruity? One that is sweet? Or one that has a minerally quality? Knowing this will leave you ready to conquer any wine aisle to find the perfect bottle of pinot grigio.

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