Pinot grigio, which is also known as pinot gris is some areas of the world, is one of the most enduring grape varieties in the world and is now used in hundreds, if not thousands, of blends. It has been known since the Middle Ages, when winemakers in Burgundy popularised the use of the grape and it quickly started to spread throughout Europe, arriving in Switzerland in the year 1300.
The grape’s reputation quickly began to grow as it achieved royal favour, with Hungarian monarch Emperor Charles IV apparently enjoying the grape so much that he has cuttings imported to the country by Cistercian monks, having them plant the vines on the slopes of Badacsony so that the king would always have a fresh supply for his wine drinking needs. This led to the grape developing the name Szürkebarát in the country, which literally translates to “grey monk” in deference to the men who worked to tend to it in Hungary.
Over time, other countries, such as Germany and Italy, began to fall in love with the grape and it became even more widely planted. However, in the 18th and 19th century, it eventually started falling out of favour in Burgundy and the Champagne regions, which were two of the first to adopt it, because it produced unreliable crop yields when using the techniques of the day.
The trend may have continued throughout the world, were it not for a number of vine breeders in the 20th century who dedicated themselves to developing clonal varieties of the grape that would be able to produce more consistent yields and higher quality crops.
Today, Pinot Grigio as a standalone white wine is one of the most favoured in the world, having started to enjoy a further increase in popularity since the turn of the new millennium. This makes it all the more likely that you are going to end up serving it at some point in your life, be it on a date or during a lunch with your friends. With that in mind, we have decided to help you along by talking about the way that the drink should be served, alongside a few serving suggestions that should help you get the absolute most out of it.
Before we can start considering the best ways to serve pinot grigio, we must first understand what makes such wines the way they are. Being able to identify the undertones of a wine is the first step towards being able to select adequate pairings, in addition to helping us to understand how the wine should be stored.
However, as with most wines, there is no hard and fast rule for what you will experience when drinking pinot grigio, as not all are created equally. There are some commonalities though, such as the smoothness that the wine tends to have and its fairly high levels of acidity, however there are a number of flavour profiles that you may end up experiencing, depending on the producer.
Common undertones tend to be fairly tropical and floral, so you need to be prepare to create dishes that complement this. You will often enjoy hints of vanilla, with some even demonstrating notes of melon and pair, though it is more likely that you are going to notice a level of citrus above all else.
As a general pointer, consider reading the label on the bottle before making your purchase so that you can get a little bit more information about the company that made the wine and the various notes it claims to contain. This will make it much easier to select a pinot grigio that suits your palette, in addition to selecting food to go with the wine.
A lot of people struggle with maintaining pinot grigio at the right temperature, particularly those who are more used to serving red wines at their functions. Many also mistake it for the similar pinot noir grape, which leads them to serving the wine at a higher temperature than is optimal fort the taste.
To get the most out of the wine, you really need to serve it chilled, though you must also be careful to not chill it to the point where it begins losing its texture. Pinot grigio has a sweetness to it, but it is not as strong as dessert wines that often need to be chilled to a fairly large degree. As such, you need to keep an eye on your refrigerator’s thermostat so that you can keep it at a temperature of around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Most fridges probably run a good ten degrees cooler than this optimal temperature, so if you are unable to make adjustments you should only keep the pinot grigio in there for about an hour before serving. Alternatively, you could consider purchasing a specialised wine cooling fridge, which will give you a lot more control over the temperature of what’s inside.
Of course, as with any great wine, the food that you pair with pinot grigio will play a large par in determining just how much you manage to get out of it. You need to keep in mind that, like many of the great Italian white wines, pinot grigio is a fairly acidic drink so you need to be able to choose foods that complement this so that you don’t end up getting overpowered.
This means that acidic dishes, such as those based on tomatoes, are not really recommended. As such, you need to avoid such sauces in creating your dishes, instead plumping for something a little lighter based on garlic or cream. This is particularly important if you are serving a pasta dish, as the wine will overpower the pasta without a good sauce, but at the same time you need to be careful about the type of sauce that you chose lest you end up with too much acidity in your food.
The wine also goes remarkably well with poultry and the majority of seafood dishes, which makes it ideal for serving during a Christmas lunch or when enjoying a light snack at the beach.