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Types of Wine: Pinot Grigio


Master Vintner Varietal Spotlight: Pinot Grigio

This is the fifth in our series discussing the grapes we use in Master Vintner wine kits. Grapes all have their own unique character and response to the sunlight and soil of the region they're grown in. I'll be talking about all of the grapes we use in our Master Vintner kits in turn, to help you understand the flavors, aromas and history of each.

Most wine drinkers in America associate Pinot Grigio with Italy, but it's a French Variety through and through, well established there (under the name Pinot Gris) in the middle ages. Its DNA is very similar to Pinot Noir: the only thing different about them is the color of the grapes, with Pinot Grigio ranging from greenish-white to a pale gray-blue fruit, compared to the more purple Pinot Noir.

It arrived in Switzerland from Burgundy sometime in the middle Ages, in Hungary by the end of the 1300s, and is thought to have migrated to Alsace and southern Germany by the latter 1500s. Two of the variety’s alternate names, Beurot (monk’s cloth) and Szürkebarat (gray monk) may refer to the berry’s greyish skin and to the vine’s having been propagated in several areas by Cistercian monks.

It was in Italy, however, that Pinot Grigio took on the mantle of a world-class wine. Ideally suited to the hillsides of northern Italy, it was planted in Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Trentino and Alto Adige, and eventually became Italy's most popular wine, before coming to the USA to become America's favorite imported white wine.

Adaptable, resistant to mold and mildew, and quite prolific, Pinot Grigio is best suited to deep, warm soils high in minerals and requires a long, cool growing season to develop flavour and delicate aromas while preserving its backbone of acidity.

Some wine snobs look down on Pinot Grigio for being unsophisticated or simple—it isn't, but a few examples from warm climates have low acidity and seem soft and plain. Well grown, in the right areas, Pinot Grigio is as sophisticated and complex as any Chardonnay.

Winemaking styles vary greatly around the world, and as befitting a red grape in white grape's clothing, it can make opulent wines that are described as creamy and, honeyed with scents of spices and blossoms. While that's a pretty interesting approach, it does challenge drinkability at the end of the day.

A more balanced approach (like our own Master Vintner Winemaker's Reserve) yields fresh, crisp, supple wines of genuine charm which show clean white fruit flavours and aromas of apple and pear offset by notes of almonds and acacia flowers.

Pinot Grigio really stands out as an excellent food wine, and pairs exceptionally well with fish. It wasn't until producers in Oregon started selling their Pinot Grigio as the ultimate match for local salmon that the wine really took hold, and it's no wonder that it did. With just the right weight for the rich, flavorful fish and good but not overpowering acidity, it allowed the sweetness of the salmon to come out and subtly mingled with any herbs the chef might use in the dish.

A lesser known but amazing pairing with Pinot Grigio is Spaghetti Carbonara. Decadent guanciale bacon, Pecorino Romano cheese, and eggs enveloping perfectly al dente pasta balances beautifully with the sweet fruit of the wine making the dish seem even richer and more decadent.

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  1. Winexpert Italian Pinot Grigio (Selection International)
    $149.99

    The uniquely Italian version of the well known Pinot Gris grape, picked earlier in Italy than in all other regions and well before its characteristic loss of acidity at ripening, for a bright, crisp, dry white wine with a gentle perfume and a detectable spiciness. Fresh, fragrant and lively, its flavors include a certain flintiness with hints of citrus and almonds. Sweetness: Dry | Body: Light-Medium | Oak Intensity: None Learn More
  2. Italian Pinot Grigio - RJS Cru Select
    $147.99

    An exquisite balance of citrus fruit and acidity is the foundation for this popular Italian white wine. The bouquet reveals bright citrus and green apple aromas with honeydew tones. Learn More
  3. Italian Pinot Grigio - RJS En Primeur Winery Series
    $189.99

    This light-bodied refreshing white wine opens with citrus, floral and pear notes. An excellent harmony of fruit and acid create a crisp finish that reveals hints of citrus and green apple. Learn More
  4. Pinot Grigio - Master Vintner™ Winemaker's Reserve™
    $84.99

    Master Vintner® Pinot Grigio makes 6 gallons of crisp dry white wine scented with citrus and a clean finish that lingers on minerals, white fruits and almonds. Learn More
  5. Master Vintner Sommelier Select Italian Pinot Grigio - 6 Gallon
    $149.99

    Light to medium bodied, this dry wine shows lime, pear, mango, and stone fruit notes, good minerality and hints of honey and almond in the finish. Great with lighter dishes: snapper, sea bass, oysters or salads with goat cheese. Learn More
  6. Winexpert Small Batch World Vineyard Italian Pinot Grigio
    $27.99

    A zippy, dry white wine with floral notes on the nose and plenty of fruit on the palate. Sweetness: Dry | Oak: None | Body: Light-Medium Yield: 1 Gallon (approximately 5 wine bottles) Learn More
  7. RJS Cru International Italy Pinot Grigio Kit
    $104.99

    The deep apple and grapefruit bouquet will entice you. Apples and citrus notes follow through to the palate and linger with a dry finish. Learn More
  8. Pineapple Pear Pinot Grigio Kit
    $79.99

    Leaps out of the glass with juicy sweet pears, succulent, ripe pineapple, and a bright and flowery fragrance. Firm acidity from the Pinot Grigio gives it mouth watering juiciness and a refreshing finish. Learn More
  9. Pinot Grigio - RJS Grand Cru
    $91.99

    Discover this award winning white wine kit, ready in just 4 weeks time. Learn More
  10. Winexpert Selection Pink Pinot Grigio Limited Release Bottle
    $134.99

    Pink Pinot Grigio is back, but only for a limited time.

    This summer-starting wine is pale pink with a light, crisp body - exactly what you'll want to sip with friends when the weather gets warm. But if you want it to be ready by then, the time to ferment is now. Learn More

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