Pinot gris or pinot grigio - what's the difference?
Here's our quick guide on what to expect with a gris vs a grigio, so you can get the most out of this great grape.
Check out: Gris vs Grigio 52.0
What’s the go with pinot gris vs pinot grigio?
We’ll keep this as brief as possible to get into the good stuff.
A little like syrah vs shiraz, each name originally hinted at where the fruit was grown and the wine was made; Italy for pinot grigio, France for pinot gris. A mutation of pinot noir, it’s the same grape in either language, noted for the grey-blue skins when ripe (grey is “grigio” in Italian, “gris” in French).
Over time, the grape packed its suitcase and got a few more stamps in its passport, finding new homes worldwide (including Oz), and producers use either gris or grigio to indicate which distinct style they’re looking to deliver in bottle so you can recognise what you’re after.
What to expect with pinot gris vs pinot grigio
Pinot grigio, in its traditional Italian heartland of Veneto in north-east Italy, tends to be picked earlier (rather than left to develop on the vine), and fermented in stainless steel to preserve as much of that fresh-picked character as possible. In keeping with this, “grigio” wines where you’ll find them denote this fresh, super smashable style; usually more green fruited, citrusy and bright; think lemon, lime, bright green apple and delicate florals, light in body with that crisp green acidity.
Check out: Savian Pinot Grigio 2022
On the other hand, pinot gris has a stylistically “riper” fruit profile when it comes to sticking your nose into a glass - pear, peach, apricot - maybe with a bit more body and concentration when you take a sip. Winemakers may even use old (or large format) oak to round off some of the acid or leave the wines with a touch of residual sugar; pinot gris from the classic French region of Alsace (where it’s considered a noble grape of the region) is also employed in making late-harvest, sweet wines that have a honeyed character due to that time it's spent sunbaking on the vine.
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What temperature should I serve pinot gris or pinot grigio at?
Nothing too complex here for these approachable vinos - both styles are usually best chilled to 7-10ºC (a couple of hours in the fridge before you plan to drink them). That way you’ll get the best of the aromatics and make the most of the refreshing acidity that both wines deliver so well.
What foods pair best with pinot gris vs pinot grigio?
Fresh fish and pinot grigio go gangbusters together - think kingfish ceviche with a yuzu or lime dressing, salmon sashimi, raw tuna and cucumber maki rolls, oysters with fresh lemon or a lox bagel with capers at brunch. Consider it a go-to for a fresh, light white.
Moules marinière can be a serious winner with pinot gris; fried pork and chive gyoza is another tick. Gris styles tend to have that richness of flavour (along with that rounder profile) that can go toe-to-toe with grilled white fish and meats on the whiter end of the scale too.
As always though - you do you. Discovering new combos is one of the best parts of exploring wine and your palate, so experiment to your heart’s content.
Check out: Twin Valleys Reserve Pinot Gris 2023
When should I be drinking pinot gris vs pinot grigio?
Pinot grigio is that perfect picnic guzzler, the wine for when light and refreshing is what you’re after to keep you chilled and chatty in the afternoon heat. It’s the always approachable friend that gets the small talk started and the conversation flowing - and it’s also great for keeping you light on those hot, humid evenings where all you want for dinner is big bowl of fresh prawns with plenty of cocktail sauce for dipping.
Pinot gris is the wine you reach for when you’re looking for something more developed and sultry - it’s a more sit-down style of drop to accompany garlic roasted chicken with roast spring vegetables on a Sunday, or a classic tofu pad thai when you’re catching up with your favourite TV show on a quiet weeknight.
Check out: Gris vs Grigio 52.0