Let me blow your mind right now…
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are actually the exact same grape variety.
I know. Crazy, right?
It is a white grape, with a grayish / brownish / pinkish skin. The grape originated in France – mainly cultivated in the Alsace region – where it is known as Pinot Gris and across the border in Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio!
Gris = French for gray, Grigio = Italian for gray.
Now that we have that out of the way… Same grape, different wine
Because they are made in different countries and styles, they have different flavor profiles.
Italian-style Pinot Grigio are usually lighter-bodied, crisp, and fresh, with vibrant stone fruit and floral aromas and a touch of spice.
French-style Pinot Gris are often barrel-aged which makes it more full-bodied, richer, spicier, and more viscous in texture. They can also be on the sweeter side. They tend to have greater aging potential.
Pinot Gris can actually be picked late-harvest and turned into a rich dessert wine.
Today these white grapes are planted in almost every wine-growing region around the world. For the most part the wine is made in Pinot Grigio-style because it is easy-drinking, popular, and good to consume young. Oregon and parts of New Zealand tend to focus more on the rich Pinot Gris-style.
Pinot Grigio is lighter, so it can be enjoyed sans food, or with lighter dishes — I’d recommend shellfish or grilled fish.
The richness of Pinot Gris makes it very food-friendly so it works with heartier fare — veal chop, rabbit stew, chicken casseroles.
Do you have any other questions about the different between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio? What varietal do you want to learn more about next?
“Wine is bottled poetry.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson