About Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is another Italian success story having experienced a similar rise to fame that ‘Prosecco’ has enjoyed over the last decade, particularly since 2004. This is due to its easy drinking style and therefore suitable for wine as an aperitif, being famously popularised in wine and cafe bars by ‘ladies who lunch’.
Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for the French white grape variety called ‘Pinot Gris’ [a member of the Pinot Noir family] from Alsace and also formally from Burgundy where it originated and known then as ‘Fromenteau’ - It is also known by this name in the Languedoc region of southern France.
It is normally distinguished by its greyish-blue colour, accounting for its original name Gris [meaning grey in French] but the grapes can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. It is also the grape that is favoured for making ‘Orange Wine’ [wine left to mature longer on the grape skins to much beyond the colour of rose. [see our future article on ‘the different styles of white wine’]
However I feel that the pronunciation of the term ‘Grigio’ has maybe as much to do with its fashionable rise to stardom than just the wine itself, very Italian and therefore perceived as ‘very stylish’.
"Viticulture was first introduced into the Italian island of Sicily around 800 BC"
The Italian Pinot Grigio is a lighter styled white than wines from Pinot Gris made in France, Germany, California and other ‘New World’ countries that tend to be more full-bodied.
However in these countries, particularly Australia, Argentina and California, they have all now emulated this lighter style, even using the name ‘Grigio’ to capitalise upon this phenomenal Italian success story. Pinot Grigio is more prolific in northern Italy particularly in the ‘Veneto’ region where the wines here can sometimes be a little thin and lacking in character, this could be because of over planting. However it comes into its own in the defined areas ‘Friuli-Venezia’ and the ‘Alto Adige’ where leading producers have created some well rounded, elegant and mineral laden examples.
The Style Of Pinot Grigio
It is not so easy to describe all Pinot Grigio wines in a broad brush stroke manner as they vary so much, so check from our list at Wines Direct and we can help point you in the right direction. We have listed below 3 of the most authentic examples from Veneto, ‘Grigios spiritual home’ and currently on offer at Tesco, who have a comprehensive range of Pinot Grigio wines also from Argentina, Chile and California. One I liked in particular was the La Gioiosa Pinot Grigio Blush from Veneto, ‘Grigio with a twist’!
What to look for?
Here is a general overview of what you should look for:
On the Eye - Pale straw to deeper straw yellow with golden hues for the better quality wines.
On the Nose - Ranging from melon to pears with sometimes tropical or citrus aromas.
On the Palate - Flavours can include melons and pears and often there is a honey or smokey flavour component as well.
The texture is worth noting also as it has very smooth, almost silk like overtones that leave a longer finish on the palate as a welcome surprise.
Matching Pinot Grigio with Food
Pinot Grigio is such a light wine in general so goes with fish and seafood dishes really well. Simple grilled chicken or pork are most suitable and of course vegetarian dishes are admirably complimented, such as an Italian Vegetable Torte – made with asparagus, courgettes and spinach, decorated with shavings of Parmesan cheese, or try Polenta with Wild Mushrooms.
Milder flavoured Pizzas and light pasta dishes will also fit well with this wine.
But I feel that Pinot Grigio really comes into its own as a stylish wine to be enjoyed just by itself and with friends either in a bar or before a meal at home or in a restaurant, but if your are deciding to eat, think light, think Italian and always remember “That a good wine is a wine shared”
Alan Hunter AIWS,