For many people Pinot Grigio is a simple quaffable wine. Light, refreshing and unchallenging. And there is nothing wrong with that. Just like some days you might yearn for the simple pleasure of Cadburys over posh chocolate.
But Pinot Grigio can achieve more than that. The sunny hillsides of Northern Italian reaches like Alto Adige, Fruili or Collio can produce very refined and mineral peppery versions. Alternatively there is Pinot Gris. That is actually just a different style of the same grape originating from Alsace which is picked slightly later allowing the grape to develop more flavour. These versions have richer pear fruit, a soft creamy texture and gentle honey flavours with age.
When it comes to New World versions countries like America or New Zealand tend to call their wine Pinot Grigio when made in the lighter style and Pinot Gris to denote the richer versions.
The grape is a touch pink but most winemakers chose to avoid skin contact to produce clear wines. It only has inherent moderate acidity which is why Italian styles are picked early to keep them fresh tasting. The grapes are phenolic meaning they can easily get an oily texture and so the winemaker has to take care to avoid that character. Most styles are unoaked with no malolactic so the gentle aromatic fruit character can be tasted.
Pinot Bianco, Garganega, Arneis, Fiano, Pecorino, Gruner Veltliner, Sylvaner, Furmint.
Italy: Veneto, Alto Adige, Fruili-Giuilia-Venezie, Collio
New Zealand: Marlborough, Nelson
White Fish, Risotto, Grilled Chicken, Macaroni cheese
NB – Off dry Alsace Pinot Gris is a better match for spicy Asian dishes