Best Pinot Grigio

Updated August 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pinot grigio

Last Updated August 2020

It’s one of the most refreshing wines and also one of the easiest to drink. Pinot grigio is beloved for its light, zesty taste and fruity flavors, making it a delicious beverage of choice when the sun is out and the air is warm. However, pinot grigio is more versatile and diverse than its simple reputation lets on. It may be dry or sweet, earthy or fruity, and it pairs well with a variety of meals.

Pinot grigio comes from a purplish-gray grape that’s a genetic mutation of pinot noir. While much of wine enjoyment is subjective, learning about processes, regions, and various notes and aromas will set you up for success when seeking out a bottle to pair with a specific occasion. When it comes to pinot grigio in particular, its varied nature suggests you’d be hard-pressed to find at least a few bottles you don’t enjoy.

This buying guide details the prevailing properties of pinot grigio as well as its vast potential. Understanding and appreciating pinot grigio can also lead you to the discovery of new wines — pinot grigio has a lot of relatives — and finding a bottle you truly love. Cheers!

Pinot grigio history dates back to the Middle Ages, where it was enjoyed in what is now France and Germany. Over centuries, it fell out of favor because it was difficult to harvest, but it regained popularity in the 1900s.

Key considerations

Characteristics

Though varied, the following traits are generally found across all pinot grigio bottles.

Acidity: Pinot grigio is known for being highly acidic, though some bottles trend slightly closer to the middle of the acidity scale.

Tannin: As with most white wines, pinot grigio features no tannins and therefore lacks the bitterness and complexity associated with tannins.

Dryness: Most pinot grigio tends to be dry and lacks the potent sweetness of riesling or moscato — and even the more balanced sweetness you may find in a chardonnay.

Alcohol content: Pinot grigo boasts an average alcohol content by volume. On the lower end, it may be around 11.5% ABV, while more potent ones may reach around 13.5% ABV. This falls in step with many popular whites and some light- and medium-bodied reds.

Body: The preceding traits make up the overall body of pinot grigio, which is light to medium. This means pinot grigio is easy to drink with lighter meals or by itself. It should feel spritzy and refreshing.

Countries

France and Italy are among the most popular makers of pinot grigio. Similar pinot grigio wines are produced in Germany, Austria, and Hungary. (Note that in Germany, pinot grigio is referred to as Grauburgunder.) New World regions where pinot grigio is grown include the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina.

Tasting notes

Pinot grigio predominantly features citrus and stone fruit flavors, with lemon, lime, pear, nectarine, and apple being the primary notes. Aromas include honey, almond, clove, and ginger. Despite a reputation for being excessively fruity and zesty, some subtle, sweet, and earthy notes can be found as well. Pinot grigio may also boast almond, gravel, and mineral flavors.

Terminology

Pinot grigio and pinot gris are the same thing, for the most part. Pinot gris is the French term for the grape that was originally found in France, while pinot grigio is the Italian term for the same grape. While they come from the same beginnings, pinot gris and pinot grigio often inform different processes, and as a result, the tastes may be different.

Pinot gris tends to be somewhat more textured with notes of honey, while pinot grigio is often fruity and zesty. These differences are subtle, and the terms are often used interchangeably.

EXPERT TIP

If you enjoy pinot grigio, be sure to check out some of its close relatives and varieties. You may find albariño, pinot blanc, vinho verde, soave, or assyrtiko to your liking as well.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Food pairings

Due to its light and zesty nature, pinot grigio pairs well with light meals that feature some zest themselves. Any fresh meals, especially featuring seafood, vegetables, or white meat, would be nicely complemented by pinot grigio. Anything with a lemon or lime dressing or sauce would pair well, too.

Pinot grigio that tends toward a medium body and higher alcohol content, like many from the United States and Australia, can work well with slightly heavier meals, especially cream-based pastas and poultry.

Alsace pinot gris

Pinot grigio from Alsace, an eastern region of France near the border of Germany, is an exception when it comes to flavor. Referenced in France as pinot gris, the region makes fruity pinot grigio that is sweet rather than dry. Perfected over decades, this region is one of a rare few in the world that makes a sweet pinot grigio. It tastes of honey, apples, and lemon candy.

Pinot grigio made in Alsace may be relatively sweet or exceptionally sweet. Curiously, the region also produces riesling and moscato, but those traditionally sweet wines are made dry in Alsace.

Regional differences

As with most wines, you’ll find differences between “Old World” and “New World” pinot grigio. The term “Old World” denotes wines made in France, Italy, and other Mediterrean countries. The term “New World” denotes wine made elsewhere, particularly New Zealand, Australia, the United States, Chile, and South Africa.

Pinot grigio made in the New World tends to be dry and fruity, while Old World pinot grigio tends to be dry and minerally. That’s because the cooler climate of Old World vineyards typically integrates earthy notes and flavors into wine. New World wines, which are made in warmer climates, are more fruit forward, and some may even be partially fermented to add a creamy richness.

Pinot grigio exploded in popularity in the United States over the last few decades. As such, you’re likely to find some mass-produced bottles that are exceptionally fruity.

International Pinot Grigio Day is May 17th. It’s the perfect time to grab a glass and celebrate with your favorite selection.

Accessories

Wine growler: Corkcicle Classic Canteen Collection
Pinot grigio makes a refreshing drink on a warm summer day. We love this insulated and elegant wine canteen from Corkcicle that keeps wine cool and safe when traveling to the park or beach.

Insulated stemless glasses: Eparé Tumbler Glass Set
Stemless glasses aren’t ideal for drinking white wine — unless, of course, they’re insulated. Keep your pinot grigio cool with these inexpensive hand-blown stemless glasses from Eparé.

Wine glass markers: The Original Wine Glass Markers
Keep track of your drink when you’re among friends. This set of colorful markers from The Original Wine Glass Marker is useful for writing (and drawing!) on your wine glasses or any other glassware that needs labeling.

Wine chiller: Modern Innovations Marble Wine Chiller
Pinot grigio is best served ice cold. After opening, keep the bottle at your convenience with this beautiful and effective wine chiller from Modern Innovations.

Pinot grigio prices

Inexpensive: You can find a decent bottle of pinot grigio for $15 or less. These will likely be made from large, popular vineyards and feature lots of fruity flavors.

Mid-range: Many quality bottles of pinot grigio range from $15 to $30. These may be fruity or mineral, and they come from all around the world.

Expensive: While pinot grigio may not be the most expensive wine, you can still find high-end bottles for over $30. These bottles come from trusted and beloved vineyards and often feature unique or complex notes. Alsace pinot gris may cost well over $50.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pinot grigio is versatile and sensitive. If you leave the skin on during the fermentation process for a bit of time, the result will be a delicious rosé.

Tips

  • Note the price. While price isn’t always an indicator of quality, be careful with extremely inexpensive pinot grigio. Cheap whites tend to feature extra sugar, making them overly sweet.
  • Taste the difference. Explore pinot grigio from both warm and cool climates to compare and contrast. Not only may you find locations that you prefer, you’ll also learn about how regions influence the winemaking process.
  • Log your reactions. Pinot grigio is notoriously hard to identify in blind sommelier taste tests, in part because it has such a wide range of flavors. Take note when you enjoy a bottle to better identify what’s possible and what you like.
  • Use the right glass. Pinot grigio is best served in a white wine glass that isn’t too large or wide. It’s ideal for keeping wine zesty and light and enhancing the citrus and fruity aromas.
While pinot grigio can last at most a week once the bottle is opened, and another week longer if a preserver is used, its zesty and fruity nature is best enjoyed in the first few days.

FAQ

Q. If I’m not a fan of fruity wine, would I like pinot grigio?
A.
Pinot grigio has a reputation for being fruity and zesty, particularly in the United States where its popularity was initially driven by its fruity nature. However, pinot grigio is made throughout the world, and it’s made of a particularly sensitive grape. That means it’s easily influenced by the region in which it grows as well as the vineyard and winemaker. As such, there are lots of pinot grigio options that aren’t as fruit forward. For example, there are some fine pinot grigios that balance citrus with roundness or earthiness. Seek out pinot grigio from Italy, France, and Germany if you’re wary of too much fruit taste.
 

Q. How should I store pinot grigio?
A.
Pinot grigio doesn’t need to age and can be enjoyed right away, but it should be chilled prior to serving. The ideal temperature is between 45°F and 55°F. Use a wine chiller to keep the bottle cool once opened and out of the fridge. If you enjoy white wine in particular, you may want to invest in a wine fridge to keep your bottles properly chilled. Some reds can benefit from cooling as well.
 

Q. What’s the difference between pinot grigio and pinot noir?
A.
To most consumers, these wines are different: pinot grigio is white and pinot noir is red. But genetically, the grape from which they are made is the same. That holds true for pinot blanc as well. The pinot grape is over 1,000 years old and has fostered mutations and variations over time. These mutations start with grape color. The regions in which they are made, the climate at the time, and the processes undertaken by the winemakers lead to very different products. If you like one, chances are you will like the other.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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