Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris: What’s the Difference?

To-MAY-to, to-MAH-to
Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to

It’s easy to think that Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the exact same thing, but do these wines have any more differences than a couple of letters and pronunciation? They sure do.

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are both made from the Pinot Gris grape varietal. The grape is called Gris in France and Grigio in Italy, and the environment in which the grapes are grown greatly affect their flavors. Comparable regions in the United States include Oregon and Washington (and even Ohio!) for Pinot Gris and California for Pinot Grigio, although you will find these in other winemaking regions, including New York State.

Pinot Gris
French Pinot Gris tends to have higher alcohol content and a fuller body than its Italian counterpart. The grapes are harvested when they’re fully mature, and since the longer a grape is on the vine, the more sugar it has, Pinot Gris tends to be a slightly sweeter wine. The sweetness is cut by hints of spices such as cinnamon. Because this is a substantial wine, it can stand up to heartier food pairings including roasts and creamy pastas. Pinot Gris made in the French style can handle being saved for drinking longer than Pinot Grigio.

Although Pinot Gris originated in France, American vineyards produce some of the most delicious and popular wines of this type.

Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is among the most popular white wines in the United States. Thanks to an earlier harvest, Pinot Grigio is less sweet and has a lower alcohol content than Pinot Gris. It’s fruitier, crisper, and less acidic; it’s also low in tannins, which are partially responsible for the dryness/bitterness of a wine. The lightness of this wine makes it ideal to pair with salads, fruit platters, and grilled seafood. These are best consumed when they are young, so the sooner you drink a Pinot Grigio, the better.

Which to Choose?
The vast variety of growing environments in the United States have allowed domestic vineyards to produce Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris that are able to compete with European imports. There’s no better way to learn the differences between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris than to taste and compare for yourself. Bremer’s bestsellers are:

Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris
Kendall-Jackson Pinot Gris
Joel Gott Pinot Gris
Cavit Pinot Grigio
Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio