What Is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot Grigio

Though it is a popular, easy to drink wine, can you describe what is pinot grigio? Learn how to pronounce the name and how to serve this crowd-pleasing white wine.

What Is Pinot Grigio: The Grape and the Wine

Also called Pinot Gris, this grape varietal produces a light, acidic white wine. Italy is the biggest producer, specifically Lombardy and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, but Pinot Grigio is also grown and produced in in the Alsace region of France, Australia, Oregon and California, among other places. The grape is a mutation of the also well-known Pinot Noir, which results in a red wine.

Pinot Grigio wines vary in taste. Generally they qualify as a dry white wine, however some are more fruity, and they tend to be clean and light. They have a citrus or acidic finish, and other flavors include mineral, grapefruit and melon. Pinot Grigio wines vary in color from pale gold to straw and some even have a pinkish tint. Pleasing to the palette, Pinot Grigio is the most popular wine imported to America, accounting for 12 percent of these shipments. However, its popularity may be its downfall for some. Many self-proclaimed "wine snobs" will turn their noses up at this wine faster than a Chardonnay or Merlot.

How To Pronounce Pinot Grigio

If you aren't familiar with Italian or French, pronouncing certain types of wine may seem intimidating, and Pinot Grigio is no exception. Don't let that stop you from ordering it! Try sounding it out: "pee-noh gree-jhee-oh." Remember that the "t" is silent, and the "g" rolls off your tongue as in "George," unlike "game."

Pinot means "pine cone," and perhaps it is named this because the grapes grow in clusters of this shape. Grigio translates to "gray," which describes the greenish-gray color of the grapes, although they may range from pink to brown and even white to black.

How To Serve Pinot Grigio

Like many white wines, it is best to drink Pinot Grigio when it's young, which means about two years within its vintage. Since it is crisp and refreshing, this wine is an ideal choice for warm weather, and especially to take on picnics. It pairs well with light dishes such as chicken and seafood, but the acid helps to balance rich sauces and slightly spicy foods. For this reason, you should avoid serving it with acidic dishes, such as tomato sauce or citrus.

Pinot Grigio should be served at a temperature around 48 degrees Fahrenheit, which is warmer than the temperature of the average refrigerator, which ranges between 30 and 36 degrees. Remove the wine half an hour or up to an hour before you intend to serve it, or chill it over ice.

Popular Pinot Grigio Brands

Although Pinot Grigio is a safe bet when you want an easy-drinking, light wine, some brands stand out among others. One of the best-known and well-loved brands is Santa Margharita, which has a distinctive label with a bronze drawing of what appears to be an Italian villa. It appears on many wine lists in upscale restaurants, but be prepared for a significant mark-up. Such price increases are common because Pinot Grigio wine sells so well, so be sure to do your research before committing to a really expensive bottle.

Fortunately, there are many budget-friendly Pinot Grigios that sell for less than $15 in the wine store. Popular affordable brands include Ecco Domani, Ruffino Lumina and Woodbridge. The best part about finding your favorite wine is sampling many different brands along the way!

Even though drinking Pinot Grigio may not make you a wine connoisseur, it's a refreshing choice on a hot summer day. Now that you understand what is Pinot Grigio and how to pronounce it, pick up a bottle or two and enjoy.

What Is Pinot Grigio?