Best Pinot Noir

Updated September 2020
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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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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 
How we decided

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

32 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
445 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Buying guide for best pinot noir

Last Updated September 2020

Easy to drink, ideal to pair with a range of meals, and perfect for all seasons, pinot noir is among the most delicious and popular of wines. It’s a light-bodied red that tends to be somewhat fruity without being especially sweet, offering a welcome alternative for red wine drinkers who find cabernet sauvignon too heavy and white wine drinkers who want fruit without the tart.

Pinot noir traces its origins to Burgundy, France, and because it’s a more particular grape than other reds, it’s harder to harvest and tends to be made in locations around the world with a specific climate. After France, the leading makers of pinot noir are Germany, Italy, Australia, and the U.S. in regions where the weather is more temperate and the grapes can be protected during longer growing seasons.

The red fruit flavor and smooth drinking quality make pinot noir a necessary part of any wine collection. Our buying guide identifies the prevailing traits of pinot noir and the various ways it can be enjoyed.

The popular 2004 film Sideways, about a pair of rambunctious wine drinkers, contributed to a rise in sales of pinot noir and a decrease in consumption of Merlot, which was mocked in the story.

Key considerations

Properties

All varieties of pinot noir share similar traits, though there may be regional distinctions. Here is what you will find when trying a glass.

Tannins: Tannins creates a dry, bitter taste. With relatively low levels of tannin, pinot noir is smooth and easy to drink. This allows for a wider range of food pairings as well as greater accessibility.

Sweetness: Pinot noir is a moderately dry wine, though less so than the popular cabernet sauvignon.

Acidity: With a medium to high acidity, pinot noir is a bit more tart than other reds. The levels make pinot noir complementary to sweet, sour, and fatty foods.

Alcohol: A glass of pinot noir has approximately the same alcohol level as an average glass of wine at 11.5% to 13.5% alcohol. It doesn’t quite have the warming sensation of other red wines, which is one of the reasons it’s enjoyed year-round and especially during the warm summer months.

Body: Pinot noir is a light-bodied red, allowing it to be quickly and easily consumed. While it pairs with a host of dishes, it’s also an ideal wine to drink on its own thanks to its fruit-forward nature, smooth finish, and moderate alcohol level.

Tasting notes

Pinot noir is a red fruit wine, primarily with notes of cherry and raspberry. It’s an especially aromatic wine; spices (such as clove) and flowers (such as hibiscus) prevail in most bottles. Younger bottles tend to feature more fruity flavors and smells, while older bottles age to highlight herbaceous tones and rustic qualities, like soil or mushrooms.

Regions

Pinot noir is a fairly difficult grape to grow, requiring a longer growing season and a cooler climate than other wines. The grapes are susceptible to rot and other issues when growing. Still, they are grown in most regions around the world. In France and Mediterranean countries like Italy and Germany, pinot noir tends to be earthier. In warmer climates like California, New Zealand, and Australia, it tends toward lushness and warmth.

Serving

Pinot noir is best served slightly chilled, usually around 55°F, which is below room temperature. There is a tendency for most people to serve red wine at room temperature, which is permissible but doesn’t necessarily allow you to gain the most out of the bottle — especially if it’s an expensive and quality selection. To enjoy your pinot noir to its fullest, you might choose to chill the bottle in the fridge for five to ten minutes or serve the bottle on ice.

DID YOU KNOW?

August 18th in International Pinot Noir day. However, it is the last full weekend in July that the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration takes place in Oregon.

Features

Oak barrel aging

Wine, particularly pinot noir, may be aged in oak barrels. This is relatively common in California. Aging in oak barrels adds notes of clove, vanilla, smoke, and coconut, all of which are especially complementary to the light and fruity tendency of pinot noir.

Oregon French connection

If you like Burgundy pinot noir, don’t be afraid to check out selections from Oregon as well. Willamette Valley is located at the same latitude as Burgundy, and because of the similar climate, vineyards in this location can use clones of grapes from France. What’s more, many noted winemakers from France have invested in Oregon because of the lucrative, bountiful nature of the environment. Wine newbies may be hesitant to enjoy pinot noir from Oregon, but experts know there are many similarities to those made in the birthplace of pinot noir.

DID YOU KNOW?

You may like pinot noir grapes more than you know. The grapes are used in pinot grigio and champagne, as well.

Accessories

Pinot noir wine glasses: Luigi Bormioli Atelier Wine Glass
If you’re investing in a quality bottle of pinot noir, or even an average bottle, enhance and embrace all that it offers with the proper glasses. Opt for this set from Luigi Bormioli.

Electric wine opener: Ozeri Noveaux II
Don’t struggle with corks and risk breaking it off in the bottle or getting bits in the wine. We recommend this wine opener from Ozeri that is quick and easy to use.

Wine tote: Wine Enthusiast Weekender Bag
Whether you’re going to a party or taking wine home from the store, it’s worthwhile to have the proper tote to keep bottles safe and secure. We like this stylish, high-quality leather bag that holds six bottles.

Wine aerator: Aervana Luxury Wine Aerator
For quick and easy aeration of fine wine, purchase an aerator that will oxidize wine evenly and quickly. This luxury one-touch selection from Aervana is a useful addition to your home bar.

Pinot noir prices

Pinot noir prices are determined by the confluence of age, region, reputation, demand, and quality. Price doesn’t always necessarily correspond to quality.

Inexpensive: You can find a quality bottle of pinot noir for $20 or less. This will likely be a popular bottle from a large vineyard made in a recent year, but it will be enjoyable nonetheless.

Mid-range: Most bottles of pinot noir fall between $20 and $60. These may come from regions all around the world and are usually made within the last f: ew years.

Expensive: For over $60, and even over $100, you can find high-end bottles of pinot noir, some of which are rare. At the top end of the range, the bottles will likely be from Burgundy, where pinot noir originated.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pinot noir is among the famed six noble grapes celebrated for their popularity, tastiness, and historical influence.

Tips

  • Serve slightly chilled. As mentioned, pinot noir is a wine that should be chilled more than other reds. Don’t be afraid to serve it as such.
  • Think “spiced” versus spicy. When reading notes, it’s important to remember that spices have to do with accents in the wine, not the temperature.
  • Pick the right glass. Pinot noir is more delicate than other reds, and its aromas can be best enjoyed with a red wine glass that is wider at the bottom and narrow toward the rim.
  • Take notes. There are many options available when it comes to pinot noir. Keep track of those vineyards and bottles you enjoy and those you want to avoid.

Other products we considered

While we’ve selected the five best pinot noirs available, there are still many terrific choices out there. We like this 2015 Bien Nacido and Solomon Hill Estates, which may be enjoyed now or in a few years and is worth the investment.

This bottle from Lemelson Vineyards in Oregon offers a fruity taste with spiced notes, all for a terrific price.

Lastly, be sure to taste this selection from Vivier Wines. It boasts flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry with a smooth finish.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy housewarming gift, birthday gift, or other tokens of affection, a bottle of pinot noir is ideal. Whether you spend a lot or a little, you can find something lovely that the recipient will appreciate.

FAQ

Q. What food should I pair with pinot noir?
A.
Because of its light body, low tannin level, and high acidity, pinot noir pairs well with a multitude of meals. Fruitier versions are perfect to enjoy with chicken, pasta, or fatty fish, while earthier pinot noir is an ideal pairing with game meats and hearty soups and stews.


Q. What does “terroir” mean?
A.
When discussing or reading about wine, and specifically pinot noir, the term “terroir” may pop up. This word translates loosely to “sense of place” and is used to denote wine that feels like it’s from a specific area and more territorial than others. Because pinot noir can be somewhat difficult to grow — while also being a diverse grape — pinot noir from a certain region may have distinct traits that it doesn’t share with others. That said, terroir isn’t necessarily something that is tangible or definable. It’s often more about expectations and may be used by wine connoisseurs in elevated conversations.


Q. Should I decant a bottle of pinot noir?
A.
Because it’s a lighter-bodied red, pinot noir doesn’t necessarily need to be decanted as often as heavier reds, like cabernet, and certainly not for as long. Most can be enjoyed a few minutes after being swirled in a glass; there will be notes and flavors you may enjoy momentarily before the wine aerates.

That said, some pinot noir possesses beautiful red or purple hues. You may enjoy the aesthetic of the bottle sitting in a clear decanter on your dinner table.

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

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