What is the difference between Pinot Grigio & Pinot Gris ?

During tastings, wine classes, formal dinners and during casual occasions - I regularly get asked what is the difference or difference between this grape or this wine. It could be a grape varietal which they have never heard of or tasted or a new winery or wine label.
But the following series - and yes there are going to be a few. Is going to look at what is the difference between a 'Pinot Grigio' and a ’Pinot Gris' style white wine. Describing the typical primary flavours and palate characteristics from winemaking choices, highlighting 2 drinking now examples - and then suggesting food pairing ideas for you to try out next time you have a bbq, dinner party and evening out.

Pinot Gris is a white wine grape varietal - and the best-known ‘white’ variant-clone of Pinot Noir. It normally has a greyish-blue hue to the skin, accounting for its name (‘gris’ meaning ‘grey’ in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to blue appearance. The word ‘Pinot’ means 'pine cone' in French - because the grapes grow in pine cone shaped cluster of grapes. The wines produced from this grape vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. The clone of Pinot Gris grown in Italy is known as *(the Italian spelling for grey) Pinot Grigio.
Pinot Gris is a key grape varietal in Alsace (north-east France) - Alsatian Pinot Gris are medium to fuller bodied wines with a rich, floral bouquet. While most Pinot Gris wines are crafted to be enjoyed early, Alsatian Pinot Gris can age.
Pinot Grigio is a popular varietal in north-eastern Italy - in regions such as Friuli-Venezia Giulia - and produce dry, lighter style expressions, designed to pair with their local cuisine. The Pinot Grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often a lean wine that is light in colour with citrus, pip-fruit flavours that can be crisp with natural acidity. The style(s) from different wine regions in New Zealand are still to define a unique character. But wines can have a rich, tropical fruit-forward character (with residual sugar retained for early drinking), and with hints of Lychee and Nashi Pear on the palate.

• Classic Flavours: Naturally lifted floral aromatics and flavours of citrus, green through to red apples, green pear, and even honeysuckle. In warmer climates sweet Nashi pear, white honey, lychee and ginger notes come through on a generous palate.


Santa Margherita
2018 Pinot Grigio DOC

Grape Varietal: 100% Pinot Grigio
egion: Valdadige - Italy
Chief Winemaker: Loris Vazzoler

Brief Tasting Note:
This bright straw coloured wine, has a lifted aroma with inviting citrus & crisp summer apple characters. This Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is a wine of great personality and versatility with fresh cuisine, and with a classic dry finish.

Serve at 8°- 9°C : 12.5% Alc./vol.


Brookfields Vineyards
2020 ‘Robertson’ Pinot Gris

Grape Varietal: 100% Pinot Gris
Region: Hawke’s Bay - New Zealand
Owner / Winemaker: Peter Robertson

Brief Tasting Note:
This Pinot Gris is full of fresh vibrant flavours, showcasing pear, peach, with ginger and spice complemented by a hint of white honey. While this Pinot Gris has 4g/L of residual sugar, it has balanced acidity making a versatile easy drinking style.

Serve at 8°- 9°C : 13.5% Alc./vol.

Classic Food Pairing Suggestions:
A bright, lighter, dry style Pinot Gris or a classic Pinot Grigio will pair with: simply cooked white fish, shellfish, lightly seasoned 'or' un-battered calamari, white-bait and mixed green pastas & salads.
A fuller style Pinot Gris pairs well with: grilled fish, Asian cuisine, peppered or tempera calamari, seasoned spring rolls, with Thai fish cakes and chili chicken salads - to name a few - enjoy and share the journey.


Links to more wine varietal comparisons...