Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris in France and Grauburgunder in Germany, has many different faces. It can produce a variety of styles of wine, depending on where it's grown and who's behind the winemaking.
In the French region of Alsace, Pinot Gris is one of the 'noble varieties' sitting alongside Riesling and Gewurztraminer. The wines are rich and full bodied, full of ripe fruits, spices and a honeyed character. In Germany, Grauburgunder is often dry and refreshing with ripe pears, pineapple and nutty characteristics. Italian Pinot Grigio tends to be very different. Farmers here often opt to pick slightly earlier to retain a little more acidity and create a lighter style with crisp green apples, pears and lime citrus, sometimes with hints of salinity on the finish.
Pinot Grigio is one of the world's most popular white wines and here in the UK it's no different. According to The Drinks Business 'a total of 59 million litres of Pinot Grigio, worth £438 billion, was sold in the UK off-trade last year. Of that volume 22.9 million litres was Italian Pinot Grigio'. Those are some seriously impressive numbers and it's no surprise given that Italian Pinot Grigio has a reputation for being affordable and super drinkable - crisp and dry with easy-going fruit. It's a safe bet when faced with the wall of wine at the supermarket or on a wine list in a restaurant.
We realise it can be daunting to take a punt on something new, especially when you haven't tried it before. So once again we're back with a short guide to some of our favourite Pinot Grigio in our range at the moment and also some great alternatives to try. Take a look below - and you can be safe in the knowledge that if you like Pinot, you'll most likely enjoy these wines too.
We've also put together all the wines as a case of 6 with free delivery which you can purchase now!
We'll start off with a banging example of a Pinot Grigio. Only we're going to recommend you take a trip east of Veneto and travel to Romania. Brit Phillip Cox has been producing a number of international and indigenous Romanian varieties here for a number of years now and his Pinot Grigio is quite simply, fantastic. Full of honeydew melon, green apples and grapefruit citrus, this is the definition of a crowd-pleasing white wine. Perfect as an aperitif or with lighter seafood dishes and canapes.
Fiano is an ancient variety from Campania in southern Italy but now grown across the south and Sicily, as well as a small number of plantings in Australia. Here Miopasso have made what is quite possibly the perfect aperitif. Crisp and dry with a mouthwatering citrus acidity, bursting with fresh lemons and limes. Also pairs well with simply grilled seafood dishes. Seabass fillets with roasted vegetables would work a treat.
Diamantakis was founded back in 2007 by family members Ioannis, Michalis and Zacharias who between them manage the viticulture and winemaking. Assyrtiko is one of the most popular Greek varieties, originally from Santorini but increasingly planted on Crete where the clay/limestone soils make the perfect partner for Assyrtiko vines. Full of fresh green apple, lemon citrus and clean minerality, you can really see the similarities with Pinot Grigio. Where it differs slightly is that this has had around 3 months ageing on the fine lees to add a little more body and texture and the resulting wine is a touch fuller in body. This is a great wine to pair with food. Oysters are a favourite, or roasted cod loin with lemon, tomatoes, potatoes and oregano is a winner.
Anti-establishment white from Rioja but declassified. These guys attempted to get a loan from the banks when they were first getting into winemaking but after being knocked back, they managed to find a way themselves. The pig stuffing his face on the label is a shout-out to those bankers who turned them down. The wine itself is fantastic - crunchy green apples, vibrant citrus fruit and floral aromas jump out of the glass with a crisp, dry texture and refreshing acidity.
Picpoul de Pinet has been on the rise for a number of years and I think one of the key reasons is its similarity to Pinot Grigio. Moving from Pinot to Picpoul feels like a natural progression in a lot of ways. It has a similar fruit profile to Italian PG, with lots of lemon citrus and fresh green apple with some white peach and nectarine thrown in. It's crisp and dry, sometimes with a hint of minerality. Often Picpoul will have a little more body and a slightly rounder texture, which gives just that little bit more than an Italian Pinot. It's a fantastic partner to seafood, particularly oysters, but goes just as well with a classic carbonara.
Piedmont is home to some of Italy's finest red wines, made from the Nebbiolo grape. Barolo, for instance, is renowned throughout the world for its quality. But the region also produces fantastic white wines as well - and I'm sure many of you will have tried or heard of Gavi before. Made exclusively from the Cortese grape, the wines of Gavi DOCG or Gavi di Gavi DOCG, which is a smaller inner vineyard area around the city of Gavi itself, make up Piedmonte's finest white wines. Gavi is best enjoyed young when the fruit is at its purest and the acidity is still mouthwatering. Light bodied, full of zesty lemons, honeydew melon and crunchy apples with a slight honeyed character and a touch of almonds on the finish. A great white to pair with young cheeses, green pesto pasta or just a bowl of olives.