The main characteristics of wines, such as aroma, texture, flavor, color, and body, come from the different strains. Each strain of wine gives a different appearance to wine. And thanks to these characteristics, it is easy to differentiate each one of them.
Despite having a designation of origin, some strains were initially cultivated in a locality or area. In other countries, they have another name. This is why the name in a locality is sometimes more famous than in another. This can generate some confusion among wine consumers.
Today we will talk about Grey Pinot, a strain originally from France that spread throughout Europe and was known in Italy as Pinot Grigio. Here we will explain a little about its origin, characteristics of the grape, characteristics of the wine, and the ideal accompaniment for this delicious wine.
Origins and History of Pinot Grigio
Pinot Gris’s origin dates back to the Middle Ages, specifically in the Burgundy region of France. From there, this strain spread along with Pinot Noir to other areas of France and Europe around the 1300s and the New World a few centuries later.
It’s said that the Pinot Gris/Grigio was the grape variety that Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg liked the most. This emperor ordered some monks to bring this vine to Hungary, and plant it on the slopes of Badacsony in 1375.
After that, the vine got the name “szürkebarát”, which means “gray monk”. Around 1711, Johann Seger Ruland, a German merchant, discovered a grape growing wild in the Palatinate fields. The wine made from this grape was known as “rulander”, and later, the discovery was made that this vine was the Grey Pinot.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Pinot Grigio grape was popular in Burgundy and Champagne. However, its production declined due to poor harvests. More recently, in 2005, Pinot Grigio’s popularity increased, especially pinot grigio and other single varietal wines in the New World.
What is the Pinot Grigio or Grey Pinot?
Pinot Grigio is a white wine characterized by the darker color of the grape with which it’s made, compared to other grapes for white wine.
Its dark color tends to be confused with red grapes, particularly with its closest relative: the pinot noir grape.
Each type of Pinot Grigio grape is different according to the place where it grows, which generates different wines with different flavors. The pinot grape has its origin in France, specifically in the Alsace region.
What are the Main Characteristics of the Pinot Grigio Variety?
Pinot Grigio berries are much darker than most white grapes, which are various colors ranging from blue-gray to light pinkish brown. These bunches reach pink and purple tones when ripe.
Its budding and ripening are early, and its grapes have a relatively low acidity, which makes it more suitable for cool climates and allows the resulting wines to have a higher degree of freshness. It is a variety that has high levels of sugars; this makes it possible to produce a sweeter wine or, in the case that it goes through the process of fermentation to produce a dry wine, it gives a drink with high alcohol content.
The growth of its grapes occurs in small clusters in a pineapple shape. People often mix the Pinot Grigio with Pinot Noir to enrich and soften Pinot Noir’s flavors.
The Pinot Grigio in Italian Wines
The Grey Pinot, or Pinot Grigio as it’s known in this country, is part of this region’s wines. Pinot Grigio is grown specifically in the Lombardy, Friuli-Venice, and Alto Adige regions.
These wines are light yellow in color, full-bodied, and slightly acidic. The wines produced by this Italian varietal are very popular with consumers in the United States and Northern Europe. They consist of very light wines with few nuances and that have been promoted by marketing strategies in the United Kingdom and the United States, achieving considerable success.
The Pinot Grigio in Sweet Alsatian Wines
Pinot Gris wines from Alsace have a fleshy texture and a medium to full body. Also, they have a floral bouquet and lemon color. These wines tend to be spicy in comparison to other Pinot Gris. Although Pinot Gris wines are made to be consumed at an early age, Alsace Pinot Gris can be perfectly aged to be consumed later.
This strain’s best specimens stay fresh despite the grape’s tendency to have low acidity and a high degree of alcohol.
These Alsatian Grey Pinot, also known as Tokay Pinot Gris, are for making white wines and make some of the best sweet wines in the world.
An example is the “Grand Cru Pinot Gris”, from “vendange tardive”, or late harvest, and the “Sélection de Grains Nobles”. The wines made with grapes affected by noble botrytis. This is a fungus that “rots” wines in a way “Noble”, that is, the way winemakers look for it.
What is the Best Accompaniment for This Wine?
Pinot Grigio wines pair excellently with baked pasta, white meats such as chicken and fish, specifically salmon or tuna. This wine is also good with meats that have creamy sauces.
Another good pairing option is Indian food with curry or Japanese food.
As for the cheeses, this wine combines perfectly with ricotta or Asiago. It can also be paired with Spanish cheeses such as fresh cheese from Burgos or cured Manchego cheese since the contrast between the Italian Pinot Grigio’s acidity and the strong flavor of the Manchego cheese are an excellent combination and produce a unique sensation in the palate.
Where Do I Find a Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio Wine?
Currently, we can find this grape in various regions of the world. It has a different name according to the area. Relatively little Pinot Gris is in Burgundy. But it’s very important in France’s Alsace region. The region from where some of the world’s most glorious versions come.
While in Switzerland this grape’s name is “malvoisie”, in Germany it is “grauburgunder”. In this country, its cultivation is considerable, which is due to the Alsace region’s location on the border with this country. This grape “Pinot Grigio,” is an excellent quality grape in Italy. Other countries where this strain can be found are Romania or Hungary.
Outside of Europe, we can find this variety in Australian cities such as Marlborough, Tasmania, and South Australia. This strain is also present in the states of Washington and Oregon, in the United States, and in Argentina; this variety of pinot is grown in the San Juan area.