Pinot Grigio is known as Pinot Gris in France and Grauburgunder in Germany but its Italian name is the most-widely used, certainly on supermarket shelves and wine lists.
It’s a white grape but its bunches have a grey or pinkish hue, and can make wines in myriad styles from simple, light and fresh to rich and smoky or tropical and mineral tinged. You can even find rosé and skin-contact ‘orange’ Pinot Grigios.
How does Pinot Grigio taste?
In Alsace in north east France, as well as being used for often opulent still white wines, it’s used to make sweet late harvest wines, and is one of the permitted grapes for the region’s traditional method sparkling wine Crémant d’Alsace.
The mountains of northern Italy is home to great plantings of Pinot Grigio, and from here typical characters of this approachable dry wine are peach, white flowers and citrus. It’s also widely used in north Italian sparkling wines, including the smoky and tangy Santa Margherita Metodo Classic.
Away from its Italian and Alsace homelands, Pinot Grigio is grown all over the world from Germany and Austria to New Zealand, South Africa and South America.
‘Pinot Gris is a wonderful food wine with almost limitless matching possibilities,’ said Andrew Jefford in 2018 when he picked his top 35 Pinot Gris wines, from a selection chosen by Decanter experts.
Finding great wines
‘Pinot Grigio is a victim of its own success,’ wrote Ian D’Agata in Decanter magazine in 2016. ‘The wine’s poor reputation among cognoscenti is down to mass-volume stuff from crafty producers who churn out wines that, though simple and neutral, offer enough popular appeal to make them enjoyable.’
If you know where to look, however, there are some top wines to be found. Our team has done the hard work and tasted the following Pinot Grigio wines, ranging from the classic Italian and Alsace versions to a ‘funky’ yet ‘crisp’ Pét-Nat wine made in a London winery and a skin-contact rosé from New Zealand which impresses with aromas of ‘rose petal, white pepper and peach.’
You can also find a late-harvest Botrytis Pinot Gris here from famous New Zealand producer Greywacke which is wild-fermented in old barrels, giving ‘additional richness and complexity to the waxy, honeyed lanolin scents and viscous apricot, orange and sweet citrus flavours.’ Delicious.
There are also plenty of selections below from UK supermarkets’ own labels, offering a wide range of styles and prices points.