How To Pick A Pinot Grigio Like An Expert, Because There's More To This Wine Than You Think

So, you have been asked to bring a bottle of wine to dinner. You love wine — this should be no big deal, right? Right... until you realize you have no idea how to pick out a Pinot grigio like the expert you have always claimed to be. I totally get it. Wine is one of those things that even when you do a lot of drinking it, you might still feel a bit intimidated when it comes to talking about it, or even buying it. If you try to make your visits to the wine section as quick and painless as possible because you're worried about looking foolish, first of all, don't worry about it, because no one is paying attention to you. And secondly, I am here to help you with the basic knowledge you need to feel confident in any wine-related situation. (Drinking a glass or two will help with that as well.)

Since you love to drink wine, you might as well know what it is you are drinking, exactly. Let's take a look at one of the most popular whites that you might encounter on a wine list: Pinot grigio. Light and crisp, this wine goes perfectly with pretty much everything. Here's what you need to know.

History

Here's a secret: Pinot grigio and Pinot gris are exactly the same thing; "Pinot grigio" is the name of the grape that grows in Italy, and "Pinot gris" is the name of the same grape grown in France. Pinot gris was originally cultivated in the Burgundy region of France in the Middle Ages, and it traveled across Europe from there. In terms of its DNA, it's extremely similar to Pinot noir, and the two grapes probably originated from a single ancestor many centuries ago.

Where Is It Grown?

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Pinot gris/grigio is grown all over the world, with many of the most popular bottles coming from Italy. However, the grape is gaining popularity in other areas, including Australia, California, and lesser-known regions like Moldova and Hungary.

What To Look For

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This light white can vary in style depending on what region it's produced in. Wines from Italy will often have citrus notes like lemon and lime, as well as a bit of salinity. Wines produced in warmer regions, like Australia, will have flavors of stone fruits, like nectarine and peaches. To get the most out of your tasting experience, try to imagine these scents and flavors as you taste the wine, and see if it makes it easier to pick them out. If you want to explore tasting more thoroughly, check out this wine-tasting primer.

Suggested Bottles

Pinot grigio/gris is a very common varietal, meaning that you'll be able to find a bottle at pretty much any price point. For under $15, Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio ($11) is a good choice; it has a nice minerality to it, and notes of orange flower and tropical fruits. Perfect for taking to a BYOB. In the mid-range, Astrolabe Pinot Gris from Australia ($23) will be a bit fuller, with stone fruit and pear. And if you want to grab a high-end bottle as a host gift, the Archery Summit 2012 Ab Ovo Pinot Gris ($48), with ripe citrus and tropical fruit, is sure to be a hit.

What To Serve It With

The dry, delicate flavors of Pinot grigio/gris are perfect for light, flaky fish dishes or crab. The wine is also a great match for soft cheeses, like a triple-cream brie. Looking for a suggestion? Try this lemon-herb baked whitefish with your wine, and see how well they complement each other.

For more wine ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.

Bustle on YouTube

Images: Didrinks/Flickr; Prevention RD