What is Pinot Grigio/ Pinot Gris: wine? Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris: The Refreshing White Wine of Italy

What is Pinot Grigio/ Pinot Gris: wine? Pinot Grigio is a white wine that is known as light and refreshing. Famous in Italy, Pinot Grigio is good with anything you might be in the mood to ea

By Lucie Robson
May 06, 2022
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Pinot Grigio Wine ( Grapes) in 30 seconds

  • Pinot Grigio/Gris is a white grape producing dry, off-dry, and sweet late-harvest white and rosé wines.
  • It has pink-grey skin.
  • It comes from Burgundy in France and is one of the noble varieties in Alsace.
  • Italian Pinot Grigio is mostly found in the northeast although it’s also grown in Sicily and Lombardy.
  • It’s an early-budding, early-ripening grape.
  • Wines are lemon-green to gold.
  • This wine is known for its citrus, orchard fruit, stone fruit, melon, almond notes, and spicy ginger.
  • This wine has a light to medium body and medium to high acidity.
  • It appears in around 50 DOC appellations across Italy as a varietal and blend wine.
  • Typically, the alcohol level of Pinot Grigio ranges from 11.5% to 13.5%.


What is Pinot Grigio wine?

Pinot Grigio hails from Burgundy in France where it’s known as Pinot Gris. It’s one of the four noble grapes of the French Alsace wine region where it’s made into dry to late-harvest styles.


In Italy, Pinot Grigio flourishes in the north-eastern areas of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Veneto. Top-tier Pinot Grigio is produced in the first two areas while less interesting, but fresh, easy-drinking styles come from the Veneto plains. Pinot Grigio also grows in Lombardy and Sicily.



Learn about Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio appears in numerous Old and New World wine regions. If the style is Italian, it takes the name Pinot Grigio and likewise, if the style is French, international winemakers signal this by calling it Pinot Gris. This grape is one of the leading varietals in America’s northwest state of Oregon which has built up a world-class reputation for Pinot Grigio.

A broad difference between northern Italian and Alsace styles is that the former tends to be fresher and zestier.


Is Pinot Grigio dry or sweet?

Veneto plain Pinot Grigio displays crisp orchard fruits, light florals, honey, spice, and citrus. Premium examples from Italy’s Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige have a riper, fuller style with richer flavors, tropical fruits like melon, a wash of minerality, and almond tones. Bright acidity balances the dense fruit.

Ramato styles of Pinot Grigio (skin macerated) from Friuli are more complex with raspberry, sour cherry, leather, and savory notes.


What is the main style of Pinot Grigio? 

Pinot Grigio is a versatile grape that’s produced in several styles.

  • The most prominent style in Italy is dry white with an emphasis on fruit and freshness. It’s also made in a dry rosé style which isn’t surprising since this cultivar’s a mutation of the black Pinot Noir grape.
  • Italy also has the Ramato style, a copper-colored wine resulting from extended skin maceration. Its name comes from the Italian word for copper: rame.
  • In Alsace, Pinot Grigio (Gris) appears in a rich, dry style as well as sweet, late-harvest expressions where grapes undergo passito, or even sweeter noble rot wines.


What does Pinot Grigio pair with?

While stone and orchard fruit, zippy acidity, minerality, and florals are the standout features of dry white and rosé Italian Pinot Grigio, the intensity varies. High-end styles have more concentration while easy-drinking expressions are lighter. Ramato Pinot Grigio shows more complex flavors with meaty notes and tart fruit. The key to successful food pairing is to match the intensity of each style and complement this grape’s bright acidity. Intense fruit can sometimes pass as sweetness so, with richer styles, you can manage lightly spicy food as well.


Dry and Rosé Pinot Grigio Food Pairing


  • Appetizers: Shrimp, mussel, oyster starters, mozzarella and tomato, crudités, pitta bread and hummus, and even potato chips (the salt enhances the wine’s fruitiness).
  • Entrées: Lightly herby chicken, sushi, artichoke salad with fennel and asparagus, fried fish (the acidity cuts through the fat), seafood salad, pasta with light creamy sauces. Off-dry Pinot Grigio goes well with slightly spicy Asian dishes because the sugar and chili heat balance one another. 
  • Dessert: White chocolate; fruit platters; crème brulee; pavlova with stone fruit


Ramato Pinot Grigio Food Pairing


  • Appetizers: Prosciutto; salami; potato chips.
  • Entrées: Sushi; tempura vegetables; shellfish; pasta with light tomato sauces; Asian cuisine. 
  • Dessert: White chocolate; fruit platters; raspberry pavlova.


Top Pinot Grigio Appellations/ Areas


Across Italy, expressive, top-quality Pinot Grigio comes from Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. Leading appellations include Alto Adige / Südtirol DOC, Friuli / Friuli Venezia Giulia DOC, and Friui Grave DOC. The Veneto plains are a source of refreshing, fruity, but not as interesting Pinot Grigio produced in high volumes. Venezia DOC is a well-known appellation in this region. Friuli is the heartland of Ramato Pinot Grigio.


Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Grigio DOC in Lombardy is also a renowned appellation for this grape as is Sicilia DOC.



Where is Pinot Grigio originally from?

With its pinky-grey skin, it comes as little surprise that Pinot Grigio is one of Pinot Noir’s many mutations. Indeed, Pinot Grigio comes from Burgundy, the home of its iconic black grape parent. An old grape, ampelographers have also established a distant link to Chardonnay, Burgundy’s star white variety. 


Yesteryear, this grape was much coveted by the Swiss nobility, and it’s widely thought it was from this country that Pinot Grigio came to Italian regions via the Alps.


Today, north-eastern Italy is a benchmark producer of Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio now grows extensively across many world wine regions. Winemakers in Alsace and Oregon have also established stellar reputations for fine expressions of this cultivar.



How is Pinot Grigio made?

High-volume Pinot Grigio is typically made anaerobically, or with an emphasis on protection from oxygen. This is the preserve the fruity primary aromas and flavors of the grape. Temperature-controlled stainless steel or concrete vessels are favored for these wines and they’re destined for early release.


Premium styles also have a focus on fruit preservation but the winemaker may introduce different methods to increase complexity. Grapes may be hand-harvested for more finesse and the wine might mature for several months on fine lees for a richer mouthfeel and texture. Some winemakers could use malolactic conversion in production for fuller, creamier notes.


Ramato wine undergoes skin maceration for 24 to 36 hours which is a fairly long time for a grape like Pinot Grigio. This results in a copper color. It may also see lees aging, oak or steel maturation, and a short period of bottle aging before release.


What kind of wine is similar to Pinot Grigio?

  • Vinho Verde, Portugal.
  • Grüner Veltliner, Austria.
  • Gavi, Piemonte, Italy.
  • Fiano, Campania, Italy.
  • Bacchus, England.


Fun facts

  • Around the world, Pinot Grigio is also called Grauburgunder, Pinot, Grauer Burgunder, Pinot Gris, and Ruländer.
  • Pinot Grigio is Italy’s most exported grape varietal.
  • This grape has the versatility to be made in dry and sweet styles.
  • Pinot Grigio (Gris) is one of French Alsace’s noble grapes.
  • It’s a star varietal in Oregon, US

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