Culinary Arts

Learn About Pinot Grigio: Grapes, Taste, and the Best Pairings

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Sep 9, 2019 • 3 min read

Pinot grigio is a popular grape variety that produces a light, refreshing white wine. Pinot grigio wines are usually light, crisp, and dry. After chardonnay, pinot grigio is the second most popular white wine in the United States.



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What Is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot grigio is a white wine grape varietal from the pinot grape family, which includes pinot blanc and pinot noir. Pinot grigio grapes typically have a grayish-blue color when ripe (grigio means “grey” in Italian).

While it originated in Burgundy, France, pinot grigio wine is now predominantly produced in northern Italy and the Alsace region of France (near the border with Germany and Switzerland), where it is called pinot gris. Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, California, and Oregon also produce excellent pinot grigio wines.

What Does Pinot Grigio Taste Like?

Pinot grigio wines are usually medium to light-bodied, dry, and acidic. But depending on the growing region, some pinot grigios can have a full to medium body and can be both sweet and citrusy. German varieties of pinot grigio wines, for example, are still somewhat medium-bodied, balancing acidity with a slight sweetness. Pinot grigio wines are typically smooth and silky in texture and can range from very pale yellow to a deep gold color.

Some common flavors found in pinot grigio wines include:

  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Apple
  • Citrus
  • Stone fruit, like peach or apricot
  • Honey
  • Honeysuckle
  • Almond
  • Spices
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Is Pinot Grigio Dry or Sweet?

Pinot grigio can be a dry white wine, depending on the varietal. This style is most commonly produced in northern Italy. The mountainous region where pinot grigio grapes are produced in Italy means the grapes keep their high acidity, producing a lighter-bodied dry wine.

The Alsace varietals of pinot grigio are sweeter, with strong hints of honey, crisp apples, and candied lemon. This is partly achieved by harvesting the grapes very late, reducing their acidity and creating a stronger flavor profile.

What’s the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris?

In theory, pinot grigio and pinot gris are the same, as both are made from the same grape. In practice, however, these terms have come to refer to two different flavor profiles: the Italian style pinot grigio, and the French style pinot gris.

  • Pinot grigio wines are light-bodied and crisp, with stone fruit flavors and floral aromas. This style is more popular in the U.S.
  • Pinot gris wines tend to be richer and spicier and are more likely to be cellared and aged than pinot grigios.


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What’s the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc?

Both pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc varietals are crisp, dry white wines. However, pinot grigio generally feels a little heavier in the mouth than sauvignon blanc, and can actually taste sweeter and more perfumed. Sauvignon blanc is crisper, more acidic, and generally lighter-bodied.

What’s the Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is the most popular white wine variety in the world. It is a medium-bodied wine, characterized by a rich, vanilla profile, often with hints of smokey oak. It is much heavier and less acidic than pinot grigio.

What Are the Best Pinot Grigio Food Pairings?

With its crispness and acidic, citrusy notes, pinot grigio lends itself to light, summery food: think seafood, pasta, and chicken dishes. Try a glass with the following:

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