Pinot Gris Profile and Pairings
From the cooler Friuli and Trentino-Alto Adige in northern Italy to the warm coasts of New Zealand, Pinot Gris is grown in a wide range of climates around the world and made into in numerous styles of wine exhibiting varying flavor profiles. Learn a little about this delicious wine, its flavor profile, and pairings.
What is Pinot Gris?
Although often mistaken as being different wines, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape and wine. The Pinot Gris grape has a gray/purple color (hence the name gris, which means “gray” in French, and grigio, which means “gray” in Italian).
In general, Pinot Gris/Grigio tends to be dry (although some regions, like Alsace, use it to create full-bodied, sweet wines with spice notes). The Italian style typically has high acidity and minerality with an almond finish, while the French style often has faint notes of honey. New World Pinot Grigio (famous in areas like Oregon’s Willamette Valley and New Zealand) often exhibits bolder fruit flavors and more subtle acidity.
Pinot Gris Pairings
The summer heat begs for refreshing white wines, and with its bright citrus flavors, like lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine, and apple, Pinot Gris hits the spot. The bright acidity of Pinot Gris makes it a perfect complement to many lighter dishes, including the following:
Olives, roasted nuts, salumi, and seed-based crackers all pair well with Pinot Gris. The acidity of the wine cuts the fats of salumi, nuts, and olives, while the citrus complements seeds and salt of crackers and breads. (Check out our article, Understanding Acidity in Wine, for information on how acidity plays a fundamental role in pairing food and wine.)
Marinated seafood salads
It can be difficult to pair wines with vinaigrette-based dishes because the acidity of the vinaigrette can dull wines with lower acidity. The delicate flavors and brightness of cold seafood salads—like octopus or crab salad—pair beautifully with light and citrusy Pinot Gris.
Fried foods need a light and acidic wine to cut the heaviness of the oil. With calamari and plates of fritto misto (battered and fried seafood), Pinot Gris works well with both the delicate seafood flavors of the dish and its oil coating.
Just as with fried calamari and fritto misto, crab cakes have the oil based that need an acidic white wine. Crab cakes are often prepared using fresh herbs, which also work nicely with the wine.
Light pastas with olive oil or white wine-based sauces, such as linguine alla vongole (clam linguine with parsley and white wine), penne with pesto, or pasta c’anciova e muddica (Sicilian pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs) are a dream with Pinot Gris.
Grilled chicken with herbs
Citrus and herbs such as thyme and basil are a perfect marriage, so it makes sense that a citrusy wine would work well with an herbed dish like marinated and grilled chicken. Keep the char to a minimum: lighter bodied Pinot Gris could be overpowered by flavors of charcoal, and the char will take away from the freshness of the herbs.
Delicate fish deserves a delicate wine that will cleanse the palate, and Pinot Gris does exactly that. And since the wine goes so well with fried dishes, it will also complement any rolls served with tempura-fried ingredients, like shrimp.