Pinot Grigio is more than just the Italian name for Pinot Gris. Although the two names refer to a single grape variety, the wine styles they represent are clearly distinct from one another. The difference between Pinot Grigio wines and Pinot Gris wines is so clear and well-established that the two are often treated as if they were two distinct varieties.
The refreshing Pinot Grigio style has enjoyed great success in various countries, most recently the United States, (where it is fondly nicknamed "Greej") and Australia. The most common descriptors of the style are "light", "crisp" and "dry". These characteristics are complemented by aroma notes citing lemon, green apple and blossoms.
The Grigio style is achieved by harvesting the grapes relatively early, in an attempt to retain as much fresh acidity as possible; the variety is naturally quite low in acidity. To retain freshness and "zing", fermentation and storage typically take place in stainless-steel tanks. If barrels were used, this would add palate weight and sweet vanilla-like aromas, which would detract significantly from the clean, simple style. Pinot Grigio wines are almost always intended for consumption within a year or two of harvest, so extended cellaring is neither required nor advisable.
Northeastern Italy (Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige) remains the world epicenter of Pinot Grigio production; the region exports vast quantities of the wine each year, mostly to the United Kingdom and U.S. In some parts of Italy, the variety is used to make sparkling wines, although it is notably absent from the nation's most serious sparkling style, Franciacorta.
Some wineries in the New World have chosen to produce both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris wines, in contrasting styles. Wines labeled as Pinot Grigio are made in a crisp, dry style, whereas those labeled Pinot Gris are richer, weightier and more complex both in terms of mouthfeel and aromatics. Each style has its place in the wine spectrum; the former performs well as an aperitif, the latter is more of a food wine.
Synonyms include: Pinot Gris.
Popular blends include: Pinot Grigio – Zibibbo.
Food matches include:
Europe: Zuppa di vongole (clam soup); goat cheese, rocket & walnut salad
Asia: Crispy garlic and chili prawns; avocado and tofu salad; gyoza (dumplings)
Americas: Fish tacos; conchitas a la Parmesana (Parmesan-gratinated scallops)
Australasia/Oceania: Deep-fried calamari salad; grilled green-lipped mussels
Africa/Middle East: Falafel with tabbouleh (parsley salad)