What is the difference between pinot and Pinot Grigio?

Answered by Andrew Fritz

The difference between Pinot and Pinot Grigio lies primarily in the style and color of the wines. Pinot Gris, which is often called Pinot Grigio in Italy, typically produces wines that are darker and more yellow in color compared to the very light yellow, almost clear, Pinot Grigio-style wines.

Pinot Gris, also known as Grauburgunder in Germany and Pinot Grigio in Italy, is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape variety. It is believed to have originated in the Burgundy region of France, but it is now grown in various regions around the world. The grape skins of Pinot Gris have a pinkish-grayish color, hence the name “Gris” or “gray” in French.

Pinot Gris wines tend to have a fuller body and more complexity compared to Pinot Grigio. They often exhibit richer flavors and aromas, including notes of ripe pear, apple, peach, honey, and sometimes even a touch of spice. These wines can have a slight touch of sweetness, although they can also be made in a dry style. Pinot Gris wines from Alsace, France, for example, are known for their richness and opulence.

On the other hand, Pinot Grigio, which is the Italian name for the same grape variety, is typically produced in a lighter, fresher style. These wines are known for their crisp acidity, light body, and delicate flavors. Pinot Grigio wines often showcase citrus, green apple, and floral notes, with minimal complexity or depth. They are generally easy-drinking, refreshing wines that are enjoyed young and often served chilled.

The difference in style between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio can also be influenced by winemaking techniques. Pinot Gris wines are often made with extended skin contact, resulting in a deeper color and more pronounced flavors. They may also undergo malolactic fermentation, which softens the acidity and adds a creamy texture to the wine. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, is typically made with minimal skin contact, allowing for a lighter, more delicate style.

It's worth noting that the terms “Pinot Gris” and “Pinot Grigio” are often used interchangeably, depending on the country and winemaking tradition. For example, in the United States, wines made in a richer style are often labeled as Pinot Gris, while wines made in a lighter style are labeled as Pinot Grigio.

The difference between Pinot and Pinot Grigio lies in the style and color of the wines. Pinot Gris-style wines are typically darker and more yellow in color, with fuller body and more complexity. Pinot Grigio-style wines, on the other hand, are very light yellow, almost clear, with a lighter, fresher style and minimal complexity.