4 Differences Between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio

If you enjoy a tasty glass of white wine, a Pinot is almost certainly on your list of favorites. If you’re a wine aficionado, you probably know that Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are essentially the same wine.

While very similar, there are a few differences. Pinot Grigio is a fresher, lighter wine while its counterpart, Pinot Gris is more full-bodied with a spicier taste. But is a slight difference in taste the only factor that distinguishes these two wines?

Let’s look at some of the key differences between Pinot Gris vs Pinot Grigio and what makes each one popular in its own right. We’ll also look at what foods you can pair with each wine!

What Makes Pinot Gris Different from Pinot Grigio

Although both wines are made from the same grape, there are a few key differences. From the time they are harvested to the way, they are cultivated. The factors that go into making a Gris different from a Grigio are the same factors that will determine what it pairs best with. Let’s review the major differences.

Where Are They Grown?

Pinot Gris is primarily cultivated in the Alsace region of France. Since the grapes are riper, the wine has a more full-bodied texture. The grape used has a greyish-blue, light purple grape. Despite its color, it’s officially labeled a white grape. The word gris means grey in French, hence the name Pinot Gris.

Pinot Grigio on the other hand is made across the border in the heartland of northern Italy. The grapes for this wine are grown in steep mountainous areas. The mountainous areas ensure the grapes maintain the high acidic levels that give this wine its unique taste.

Unlike their French counterparts, Italian grapes are harvested earlier. The early harvesting provides a lighter-bodied, drier and leaner flavor.

Is There a Difference in Taste?

The common expression around these two wine types is, “ Same grape, different taste!” If you’re new to the wonderful world of wine, you’d be surprised to learn that the same grape can be cultivated to produce two so very different tastes.

Pinot Grigio

Veneto Pinot Grigio
Coastal Wine Trail Credit: @winebutler.ca

For the most part, Pinot Grigio has a fruity flavor. Lime, pear, apple, lemon and white nectarine are a few of the flavor tones you’ll experience in a Pinot Grigio. Some Grigios also take on floral aromas such as honeysuckle.

Unlike other white wine options such as Riesling and Moscato, Pinot Grigio doesn’t have a sharp unique flavor. There is however a refreshing spark of acidity that gives it a great flavor.

Pinot Gris

Alsace Pinot Gris
Coastal Wine Trail Credit: @tyty_dudu

Pinot Gris is made with 100% Pinot Gris grapes which makes the taste very different and somewhat complex. An array of spicey cinnamon, clove, lemon, and ginger with a touch of honey make up Pinot Gris’s popular taste.

Not only is this taste exquisite but it leaves you with a spicy tingly aftertaste. If you prefer a sweeter Pinot Gris, be sure to look out for late harvests.

Is There a Difference in Taste in Gris and Grigio Made in Other Countries?

While the general way these wines are cultivated remains the same, there are a few different tastes to each, depending on where you’re buying it from.

An American Pinot Grigio, for instance, has a more exaggerated fruit flavor. It also boasts a much less acidity level than the versions cultivated in Europe.

Since the grapes grown in France are fleshier, the grapes often have botrytis. This is a type of “noble rot” or fungus that decays the grapes. This “noble rot” creates a faint honey undertone on the end taste of the wine.

Italian Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, is made with 100% dry grapes. This creates a superior acidity with an undertone of bitter almonds.

What Food are Best Paired with Each Wine?

As any wine connoisseur will tell you, different wines pair better with specific foods. Pairing the right wine with your dish will enhance the flavor and increase your dining experience. Choosing the perfect wine for your meal is crucial to the success of any dining event!

Pinot Grigio

Since Pinot Grigio are lower in alcohol with simpler crisper flavors, these types of wine are perfectly suited to light meals. The general rule of thumb with this wine is to pair it with a meal that doesn’t have complex flavors. With its somewhat saline quality, it adds a burst of flavor to certain dishes. Examples include:

  • Seafood – both raw as sushi and cooked fish dishes
  • Salads – both vegetarian and meaty
  • Cold meats
  • Fruit plates
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Hummus
  • French fries

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris wines are best paired with dishes that have a heavier base. So, simply put, Pinot Gris is great as a dinner wine whereas a Grigio is often considered a lunch or light wine. Pinot Gris brings out the spicy flavors used in heavier dishes such as saffron, turmeric and cinnamon. Some of the best pairings for Pinot Gris include the following:

  • Roast meat dishes
  • Meaty soups and stews
  • Spicy Asian or Mexican dishes
  • Curry dishes
  • Vegetarian dishes

What is the Best of Each Type?

Knowing what distinguishes a good Grigio from a Gris is only part of your wine journey. Since both Grigio and Gris have numerous options on the market, how do you know which ones provide superior taste? Read on to see which brands are the most popular for both Grigio and Gris.

Pinot Grigio

Popular Pinot Grigio options include the following:

  • Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio: Many people believe this wine is solely responsible for making Pinot Grigio so popular. It’s a popular choice, readily available and very easy on the palate. With its zesty taste, it’s easy to see why Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is so iconic.
  • Alois Lageder “Riff” Pinot Grigio: If you’re looking for a Grigio on a budget, this is undoubtedly the best option. With its crispy, ripe fruit flavor, it’s both affordable and tasty. Expect a burst of apple flavor!
  • Elena Walch: This is a wine that quite frankly, bursts with zesty flavor and structure! It boasts a punch-like acidity, and its fresh taste lingers long after the last sip!
  • Jermann Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT: Wine lovers often agree that this particular Grigio is one of the best on the market. Its frothy acidity and refreshingly fruity aromas are reminiscent of lemon and skunky herbs. It’s affordable and great for a spur-of-the-moment afternoon lunch!
  • Mack & Schuhle “Art of Earth” Pinot Grigio: If you like your Pinot with a note of pears, then this is the option for you! Like the other Pinot Grigio on the list, the acidity levels are refreshingly easy on the palate and make a wonderful addition to any light meal!

Pinot Gris

If Pinot Gris is your wine of choice, you might consider a few of these popular choices:

  • Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris: This is the perfect dessert wine because of its lush and well-balanced taste. A higher acidity paired with a lingering aroma of honeysuckle and sometimes apricot make it a popular choice.
  • Antiquum Farm: If you’re looking for an American cultivated Gris, the Antiquum Farm label well worth considering. This label is well known for producing some of the more superior Pinot Gris on the market.
  • Domaine Marcel DEISS Pinot Gris Vendganges: Cultivated as a late harvest, this Gris offers a combination of citrus and tangy acidity. Often described as having the taste of cany fruit, this wine is an ideal choice as a dessert wine.
  • Acrobat: This American Pinot Gris is one of those wines that you can easily buy by the case and enjoy all year round! While it’s as affordable as a table wine, you’d be pleasantly surprised by the luscious fruity flavors that make it a perfect choice with every meal!

Final Thought

Whether you prefer the fruitiness of a Pinot Gris or the dry mineral taste of a Pinot Grigio, you’ll end up with a great-tasting wine. While they are essentially the same grape, it’s important to remember that each has its own unique taste. When choosing to pair with a meal, consider how the wine palates with the flavor of the dish.

It’s also great to know that tasty options are not only readily available but easy on the pocket. With that in mind, it’s easy to buy a case of each and enjoy it whenever you need a crisp and refreshing lunch or dinner drink.

The good news is, you don’t have to choose just one, both can be enjoyed, depending on what you’re in the mood for! Cheers to a very superior white wine!

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