Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio: We Break Down The Differences and Similarities Into Plain English.

Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio: We Break Down The Differences and Similarities Into Plain English.

Have you ever thought, why some wine bottles are labelled ‘Pinot Grigio’ while others are labelled ‘Pinot Gris’? How are these two wine varieties different from each other? Which one should you go for? In this article, we will tell you everything about Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris in detail.

Pinot Grigio vs. Pinot Gris

Here’s an interesting fact – both wines Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are made from the exact of same grape variety. The grayish, pink grape variety originates from the Burgandian Pinot family and it is called Pinot Gris due to its grayish color because in French, ‘gris’ means ‘gray’. In France, Pinot Gris is usually cultivated in Alsace.

This grayish pink Pinot mutation is called Pinot Grigio across the borders in Italy. Even though this Pinot grape variety was originally discovered and cultivated in France, Italians brought huge global fame and recognition to this grape variety.

Same Grapes, Different Wine

Same grape variety may be used in the preparation of both the wines, but the two names infer two different styles of wine. Italian Pinot Grigio wines are immensely popular and best known for their fresh, crisp, light bodied flavor with vibrant stone fruit combined with floral aromas and a hint of spice. The primary fruit flavors found in Pinot Grigio wines are apple, white nectarine, pear, lemon and lime. The wine may also have faint honeyed notes, saline-like minerality and floral aromas depending on where the grapes are harvested.

Unlike the distinctive flavor that Riesling and Moscato wines possess, Pinot Grigio a refreshing twinkle of acidity with a weighty feeling on the middle of your tongue. Pinot Grigio is dry and tastes less sweet in comparison to Chardonnay due to high acidity.

On the other hand, Alsace Pinot Gris wines are more viscous in texture with a spicier, more full bodied and richer flavor. These wines have more potential for cellaring and ageing. Alsace Pinot Gris made with 100% Pinot Gris grapes has a complex taste. You will discover spicy notes of meyer lemon, ginger, clove, cinnamon and honey with a long, tingling aftertaste.

Today, growing Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio grapes is not only limited to Alsace and Italy but also this grape variety is extensively cultivated in all the wine growing regions of the world.

Food Pairing for Pinot Grigio & Pinot Gris Wines

Since Pinot Gris has refreshing and zesty flavor, it pairs well with fresh vegetables and raw fish beautifully. Although shellfish and fish are usually considered classic pairing partners for these wines, there are plenty of other food items that can be paired with Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. For instance, you may try moule-frites, tilapia with cream sauce, ceviche and sushi with these wines.

Cheese Pairings

Pinot Gris: Semi-soft to firm sheep’s and cow’s milk cheeses like Grana Padano, Gruyere and Muenster pair wonderfully well with Pinot Gris.

Pinot Grigio: This wine type pairs well with Gruyere, Humboldt Fog, Stracchinos, Mt Tam and Robiola due Latti.

Spices & Herbs

Pinot Gris: Chives, Parsley, Mint, Fennel, Tarragon and Thyme and spices like coriander, turmeric, saffron, clove, cinnamon, ginger and white pepper are ideal for pairing with Pinot Gris.

Pinot Grigio: Basil, mint, shiso, cilantro, chervil, oregano, thyme, dill, marjoram, parsley, tarragon, garlic, shallots, onion, leek, chives, mustard, Szechuan pepper, horseradish, mustard and wasabi can be paired with Pinot Grigio.

Meat Pairings

The acidic zing of Pinot Gris makes it an ideal partner for white meats like fish including tilapia, trout, haddock, perch, snapper, oysters, mussels, clams, sole, sea bass, scallops, cod, redfish and halibut as well as other white meats such as turkey, chicken, duck. Sometimes, Pinot Gris can also be paired with spiced and cured meats made from pork.

Similarly, Pinot Grigio also pairs well with fish including grouper, mahi-mahi, flounder, tilapia, red fish and snapper along with shellfish like scallops and oysters. You can even enjoy sushi with a glass of Pinot Grigio wine since it pairs wonderfully with soft, crispy food items, nothing too heavy.

Due to its texture and mellow flavor, chicken also becomes a remarkable pairing with Pinot Grigio wine. However, make sure you go for dishes that are made of light cream based sauces and lemon or marinated with white wine.


Pairing vegan meals with wines may seem like a tricky task especially when most wines are served with meats and fish. However, pairing wines like Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio with vegetarian meals is a great choice. Light-bodied white wines like Pinot Grigio can be served with savory, earthy vegetables like sweet potatoes, Swiss chards, lentils and mushrooms.

On the other hand, vegetables like cucumber, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, parsnip, jicama, green apple, green melon, yellow squash, celery, onion, garlic and ginger pair well with Pinot Gris.

What to Look for in Pinot Gris & Pinot Grigio Wines

The finest Pinot Grigio wines are from Alto Adige in Northern Italy. Some of the qualities you must look for when buying Pinot Grigio wines are purity, the delicate aroma, depth of flavor and its intensity. Old world Pinot Grigio wines from Italy tend to be more citrusy with a dominant stone fruit flavor while modern wines from San Joaquin Valley are power packed with tropical, tree fruit and stone fruit flavors.  

If you’re looking for Pinot Gris style, Alsace Pinot Gris wine is the best for it has an incredibly rich flavor, earthy minerality and terroir. Oregon Pinot Gris is also a good choice – it is the perfect combination of Alsace style texture and vibrant fruitiness of Italian style wines.

Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines have a one of a kind flavor and texture owing to their places of origin. We hope you find this article helps you find the perfect bottle of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines that will tantalize your taste buds.

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