Pinot Gris – not just for housewives. While this popular white wine may have garnered a cult following with rich ladies drinking white wine at noon on Tuesdays, this grape deserves attention from the rest of us normal wine drinkers with it’s refreshing taste.

While Chardonnay may remain the top white wine grape planted (and drank) in America, Pinot Gris is Oregon’s second most planted grape. It makes up 14% of Oregon’s crop, with almost 5,000 acres planted.

If you hadn’t realized before now, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same things. They are made from the same grape – a grayish purple grape related to Pinot Noir. While most people use them interchangeably, using the word “Grigio” can be used to describe a drier, more mineral-driven wine, while “Gris” can be used to describe a fruitier style of wine.  

Much of this wine from Oregon is labeled “Pinot Gris,” and is considered by many to be one of the great values in American wine. You can get a complex, delicious and high-quality Oregon Pinot Gris for around $20 a bottle.

Whether you call it Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, it’s easy to fall in love with the taste of this sleek, acidic and refreshing wine.

TRAITS AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PINOT GRIS TASTE

Medium-Light Body

Pinot Gris is classified as a “light” wine, so expect it to be light to medium-light in body. Since many of Oregon’s Pinot Gris are inspired by the Alcastian style, expect those to be on the medium-light end of the body scale.

Medium-Low Sweetness

Many Pinot Gris drinkers lean towards this style for its “lack of fruit.” Some bottles can be bone dry with notes of minerals and saline, while others can more sweet. Check the label for clues to purchase the bottle that’s right for you. (Domestic Pinot Gris without specific vineyards or locations will a sweeter taste.)  

Low-Tannin

Since tannins in wine come mainly from the grape’s skins, and white wine doesn’t have much skin contact during the winemaking process, these wines don’t have any tannic qualities. Pinot Gris is no different. You can except zero tannins when enjoying a nice glass of Pinot Gris.

Medium-High Acid

The racy acidity of Pinot Gris is one of its most desirable qualities. The high acid makes the wine zippy and refreshing.  

Medium Alcohol

Each bottle can be different, but generally, Pinot Gris will be medium alcohol, anywhere from 10-13.5% ABV.

TASTING AND PAIRING

When drinking a nice glass of Pinot Gris, you are sure to get bright citrus notes right away. Once you get past those, you might be able to detect notes of white apple, white peach or cantaloupe. Many Pinot Gris also display almond, honeysuckle and honey notes. Need a primer on smelling wine? Check out this post.

If you are enjoying a glass that ranks higher on the minerality scale, expect notes of crushed gravel or wet slate.

The best way to serve Pinot Gris is ice cold. Pop the bottle in the freezer for a few minutes before opening, and be sure to keep the bottle on ice if enjoying at a table.

Pairing Suggestions

There are two basic schools of thought when pairing food and wine.

  • Congruent – pairing wine and foods that have similar qualities
  • Contrasting – pairing wine and food with opposite qualities

Pinot Gris is a style of wine that works really well with congruent pairings. The wine has bright, fresh and citrusy taste, and goes great with bright, fresh and citrusy foods.

Shellfish and both raw and cooked fish are delicious when served alongside a Pinot Gris. Also try it with crisp salads with celery, cucumbers, and apples.

Come and visit the Willamette Valley and taste the Pinot Gris for yourself.

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Sources:

Northwest Wine: Pinot gris remains Oregon’s flagship white

Oregon Pinot Gris

Oregon Wine Board – 2017 Oregon Vineyard and Winery Census Report