aka Pinot Gris (Fr.), Pinot Grigio (It.)


Pinot Gris is on record in the region of Burgundy, France dating back to the Middle Ages.  It is thought that the grape was most likely called Fromenteau.  Researchers at the University of California, Davis, determined that Pinot Gris is genetically similar in DNA profile to the Pinot Noir grape.  They think that the color difference is most likely due to a genetic mutation that took place centuries ago.

David Lett, an Oregon wine pioneer, is credited with having brought Pinot Gris to America in 1965.

Places It Is Grown

Pinot Gris is grown all over the world.  Besides being grown in the Burgundy, Loire and Alsace regions in France, Pinot Gris can also be found growing in Crimea, Ukraine, Valais, Switzerland, Primorska and Podravje, Slovenia, Constanţa County and Jidvei, Romania, Badacsony and Matraalja, Hungary, and Baden and Palatinate, Germany, Moldova and Austria.  The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot Grigio.

In the South Pacific, Pinot Gris can be found growing in both Australia and New Zealand.  The most popular sites in Australia for growing the grape are Adelaide Hills, Orange and New South Wales.  Pinot Gris is also grown in South Africa.

In the Americas, Pinot Gris is grown in San Juan, Argentina, Casablanca, Chile, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada, and in California, Washington state, Oregon, and Michigan.

Properties Of Grape

Pinot means “pine cone in French.  The grapes grow in small clusters similar in shape to an actual pine cone.  Pinot Gris is a white wine grape variety and normally has a grayish-blue fruit which accounts for the name Gris (meaning “grey” in French).  Grape clusters of Pinot Gris may have a variety of berry colors; this is not unusual.  It is thought that the grape is a mutant clone of the Pinot Noir grape.  This is probably due to the leaves and the vines of both grape varieties.  Each vine is so similar that coloration is the only thing that sets them apart from each other.

Upon ripening Pinot Gris will often display a pinkish-gray hue, although the colors can vary from blue-gray to pinkish-brown.  At times the grape has been known to produce a grape with a brownish pink to black and even white appearance.  The grape grows best in cool climates, and is able to mature relatively early with high sugar levels.  These sugars lead to either sweet wines or when fermented to dryness, a wine that is high in alcohol content.  Pinot Gris is often blended with Pinot Noir to enrich and lighten the Pinot Noir’s flavor.  This technique was common practice in ancient Burgundy.

As with the color of the grape in the cluster, wines made from Pinot Gris can vary greatly.  The quality of the wine is dependent on the region and the wine making style.  Alsatian Pinot Gris varietals carry a medium to full body and a rich floral-ish bouquet.  The tendency for grapes grown in this region is to be spicier in comparison with other Pinot Gris wines.   Alsatian Pinot Gris can also age well.  The Pinot Grigio style of Italy is light-bodied and often lean that has a light color.  The wine can have some great crisp and acidic flavors.  German Pinot Gris varietals carry a fuller body with a nice balance of acidity and slight sweetness. The Pinot Gris in Oregon is medium-bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and notes of pear, apple, and/or melon.   Californian Pinot Gris tends to be light-bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste and notes of some pepper and arugula.

Partnering With Food

Rule #1: Matching the alcohol level and body of the wine to the heaviness of the food should make for a proper pairing every time.

Most Pinot Gris is considered to be a wine that is taken early to the market.  It can be usually be bottled and on shelves within 4–12 weeks after fermentation.

Below are a list of foods and dishes that should pair well with the different types of wine made from Pinot Gris:

  • Clam chowder
  • Raw, crisp or steamed vegetable dishes
  • Caesar or green salads with light to medium dressings
  • Pasta in light wine sauce like lemon-flavored olive oil
  • Spicy Asian noodles
  • Shellfish like scallops, clams, mussels or raw oysters
  • Shrimp with any Thai or spicy Asian sauces
  • Delicately boiled white fish or fish prepared in light sauces, such as lemon butter

Restaurants With These Types of Dishes

To view restaurants that serve appetizers, entrees and other dishes that partner well with this grape type, click here….

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American Wine Grape Distributors Inc. AKA A. Silvestro Wine Grape, has been in business for over 5 decades. We are wine enthusiasts just like you and want to share in that enjoyment. This is why we are developing a new and exciting platform for growers, restaurants, sommeliers and home winemakers. Our goal is to bring the wine community together and is the driving force behind our new blog.

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