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Pinot Gris: Easy to Sip, Easy to Pair with Food

Fine Cooking Issue 73

What’s The Next Big Thing in white wine? Many say it’s Pinot Gris. That’s because Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, as it’s known in Italy, is easy to say (pee-noh gree, or greezhee-oh), even easier to sip, and one of the most versatile whites of all when it comes to food pairing. Pinot Gris ranges from light, crisp apéritifs to rich, lush Chardonnay-like wines to succulent, honeyed dessert wines, with every step in between.

Though Pinot Gris thrives in a wide range of climates—from warm and sunny to cool and alpine—the very best and richest examples come from the Alsace region of eastern France. These wines are full bodied, with wonderfully seductive applepear and melon flavors mixed with exotic spice notes.

The cooler northern Italian regions of Friuli and Trentino-Alto Adige create Pinot Grigios in a lighter, crisper style with tart citrus fruit and steely, mineral characteristics. Though many are lighter-style quaffers, serious Pinot Grigios are produced in smaller quantities by the better estates.

In the New World, Pinot Gris can be found in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where it’s often medium bodied and resembles Alsace wines in style with honeyed, spicy fruit and tart acidity. And though a relative newcomer to Pinot Gris, the south island of New Zealand is turning out delicious examples that combine the succulent fruit of Alsace with the zesty acidity of northern Italy.

Pairings and vintages

With food
Pinot Gris/Grigio is quite versatile
when it comes to food pairing.

Worth seeking out
As Pinot Grigio becomes trendier, many bottles are of average quality and some ludicrously overpriced. Here are ten well worth drinking.


Lighter Pinot Gris are wonderful aperitif wines and perfect with fresh shellfish and lighter fish preparations. Zenato Pinot Grigio (Veneto, Italy)
Matua Valley Pinot Gris (New Zealand)
Sortesele” Pinot Grigio (Santi, Italy)


Medium-bodied Pinot Gris are deliciious sipped solo or enjoyed with seared or grilled fish and simple oven-roasted chicken. Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio (Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)
Gallo of Sonoma Pino Grigio (California)
King Estate Pinot Gris (Oregon)
Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gris (Oregon)
Albert Boxler Pinot Gris (Alsace)


Full-bodied complex Pinot Gris can be paired with meaty fish, cream sauces, rich veal, chicken, or pork dishes, foie gras, and even lamb. Vie di Romans Pinot Grigio “Dessimis”
Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris “Cuvée St. Catherine”
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