3 Things You May Not Know About Pinot Grigio

3 Things You May Not Know About Pinot Grigio

Some people just know how to create a sensation.

The people at Blackberry were on the cusp of the smartphone evolution but it was Steve Jobs and Apple, who catapulted into the market, made your phone “smart” and created your third appendage.

Pharrell’s hat became a fashion must-have after he wore it to the Grammys in 2014 (it even has its own Twitter handle) and yet Smokey the Bear has been wearing one since the 1940s and still can’t get a GQ mention.

And who knew a cheesy red windbreaker could be so darn cool until James Dean wore one in Rebel Without a Cause.

The same thing happened with Pinot Grigio.

The grape originated in Alsace, France – the northeast corner of the country near the German border. So the French had it first.

But the Italians jumped in the game and started planting it.  They called it Pinot Grigio, made it a little lighter, a bit fruitier and created the versatile rockstar it is today.  As a result, tons of people don’t even realize it originated in France.  (Ask your kids if they know what a Blackberry is. Same thing.)

Here are few more things you may not know about Pinot Grigio.

1. It has a bunch of names.

As we just mentioned, Pinot Grigio started in Alsace, France and, there is called Pinot Gris. The grape is a mutation of Pinot Noir and is grayish-purple grape. So “gris” means gray in French. In Italian, its “grigio.”

The Germans have a few names for it too – including Ruländer and Grauburgunder. (Good luck pronouncing those.) But it all translates to "gray Pinot."

And its all the same grape.

2. It comes in a bunch of styles.

Since it’s grown all over the world now, the geography can make the wines taste really different.

Basically, if it’s from a cool climate, there’s less fruit; from a warm climate, more fruit.

Cool Climate: Minerally and dry. Think areas like the mountainous regions of northern Italy, Austria, and Germany. Pinot Grigios from these areas are light-bodied. You’ll get pear, citrus and mineral flavors and medium acidity.

Wines from the Alsace region will be called Pinot Gris and will be richer and more full-bodied. Probably more spice with some apple and pear flavors too.

Other cool climates like New Zealand and Oregon, have been planting this grape and trying to emulate that Alsace style. So you may see Pinot Gris – not Pinot Grigio -- on their bottles.

Warm Climate: Fruity and dry. Places like Tuscany, Australia, and California that get more sun are producing slightly fruitier versions. The acidity is lower and the alcohol slightly higher. They’re fuller-bodied wines with more tropical fruit like melon and mango.

3. It pairs with almost everything.

Pinot Grigio is the perfect match for fish, particularly shellfish and salads. Oh and goat cheese? Heavenly.

Pick a richer Pinot Gris if you’re having a veal chop, piece of salmon or roasted chicken.

So pour a glass of Pinot Grigio – maybe while you’re watching a James Dean movie on your iPhone.

Try A Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris

Attems Pinot Grigio 2015, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy, $20
Copper-tinged straw yellow color with vibrant citrus flavors and crisp minerality.

Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio 2014, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy, $21
Made by monks at the remote monastery Abbazia di Novacella.

WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris 2013, Willamette Valley, Oregon, $23
Mineral tones, richer finish, less fruit.

Tracy Byrnes, former FOX Business Network anchor and host of “Wine with Me” for Foxnews.com, is editor-in-chief and chief contributor of The Sip. 

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