While I tend to prefer red wines to white, I do default to white wines during summer months and generally with lunch (not that this happens too often). Luckily, in South Africa, summer is long and warm and even the winters tend to be mild and even warm in the middle of the day. Which means that there usually is some white wine in my house under normal circumstances.
One of the first, let’s call it ‘non-traditional’ whites (i.e. not a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay), that I have come to love is Pinot Grigio. This is a very versatile wine that I enjoy drinking. Yesterday, 17 May 2020, was Pinot Grigio day, and since we’re still not allowed to buy wine in South Africa (#SAWineLockdown #Day53) I had to celebrate with an empty wine glass.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris?
You might have heard of both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris and could think that these are interchangeable names for the same wine (similar to Syrah and Shiraz — you can read the article here) or that it is two completely different wines. But which is it?
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris is the name of the white grape varietal from which the wines are made. Pinot Grigio is the Italian name (and often style) and Pinot Gris is its French counterpart.
Pinot Grigio is a very versatile grape and can produce very distinct styles of wine. The most common style is one that is light-bodied, high in acidity and displays flavours of apple and lemon. This style is made from high yielding vines and the grapes are harvested earlier to retain the higher levels of acidity.
The other prominent style is made from grapes harvested later (delayed harvest) from vines where yields are controlled. These wines are lower in acidity, higher in alcohol, full bodied, with a medium acidity and concentrated flavours of lemon, stone fruit (peach) and tropical fruits (banana, mango).
Both styles are made by fermenting the wine in inert vessels to preserve the fruit flavours.
The Italian one. Pinot Grigio is generally lighter, dry, higher in acidity and have more simple flavours. Many of the wines made in this style hails from the Veneto region in Italy and are labelled delle Venezie DOC. These wines are also typically cheaper as it is produced in higher volumes.
If, however, you are looking for a more full-bodied wine, with more complex flavours you should look for wines from Friuli-Venezia Guilia.
The French one. Pinot Gris, more commonly in Alsace AOC, is mostly made from grapes that were harvested later, when they are extra ripe. When the grapes are this ripe, the acidity is lower and sugar content is much higher than when the grapes are harvested earlier.
Wines made in this style are medium to full bodied, less acidic and can be made to taste anything from dry to medium in sweetness. These wines are often more complex in flavour than the Italian style and will typically display aromas of peach, mango and ginger. If these wines are aged in the bottle you should be able to identify honey flavours as well.
If I’m not mistaken this will be my first non-South African suggested wine. It is a go-to that ranges on the higher-end of day-to-day white wine prices (for me personally) and can be found at your local Woolworths.
This is an Italian wine and I want to encourage everyone to at least give it a try.
This wine is light, with a crisp acidity. There are flavours of lemon, peach and faint hints of tropical fruits.
If you want to give Sauvignon Blanc a rest, this is a wine to try.
Happy Pinot Grigio drinking! Thank you for reading. Until next time; stay home, stay safe.
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