I challenge you to a Pinot Duel! Pinot Grigio versus Pinot Gris! But hold on a minute - aren’t they the same grape? Well - yes they are, but we’ll explore the differences associated with the names in this blog.
Pinot Gris/Grigio originates in France from the French Pinot family, it is a white grape with a greyish/pinkish skin (hence the gris) but it is France’s neighbour Italy who is famed with producing this wine.
In France, it is Alsace which is well known for its production of Pinot Gris. Here, it makes a rich, full bodied wine with ripe, exotic fruit flavours which tends to be higher in alcohol. It can be dry, but a sweet version is often produced, by leaving the grapes to ripen for longer on the vine, or by including grapes with 'noble rot' (see earlier blog) in the wine making process.
The dry wine is not completely bone dry, but has a slight hint of sweetness with its fruitiness. This style, is mimicked in places like Tasmania, New Zealand and Oregon. If you’re pairing this wine with food, then try it with chicken, pork, salmon and medium to mature cheeses, it would also be fantastic with a light pasta dish or some chinese style cuisine.
Many of us, however, associate this grape with the Italian wine Pinot Grigio which has more or less dominated the UK wine market in recent years. It is light bodied and more delicately flavoured than the Alsace version, with more of a white stone fruit flavour. It is also lighter in alcohol than its Alsace counterpart - definitely a ‘go to’ wine on a night out! Unfortunately, Pinot Grigio has grown so much in popularity that it is often the poorer quality, less flavoured wine that is on offer, which is a shame, as the better quality Pinot Grigios are much nicer. You could drink this with something light like shellfish, seafood, or creamy cheese and, as it’s Italian, why not have it with something like a Caprese salad? Following its meteoric rise in popularity this style is also being produced in other wine growing regions across the globe.
So who wins the battle? For me it’s Alsace Pinot Gris all the way, I love the rich quality of the wine, and the great flavours, but as I haven’t found it by the glass on a night out, I could easily be tempted by Italian Pinot Grigio. Why not see what you think?