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Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio Wines: What’s the Difference?

Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio

Last Updated on March 12, 2024 by Lydia Martin

Many often confuse Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines with regard to their respective characteristics. Although they have similarities, they’re incredibly different.

Step into the fascinating realm of wine as we unravel the intriguing tale of Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio.

We’ll closely examine the key factors that distinguish these wines in this in-depth comparison to ascertain the better choice for your occasion.

Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir In-Depth Comparison 

Bottle and a Glass of Pinot Noir Wine

Pinot Noir, when young, is a fruity red wine with a refreshing acidity. It has bold fruit flavors and complexity due to its long maturation.

Pinot Grigio, when dry, is crisp, light, and refreshing white wine. It has bold apples and lemon aromas, which are dominant in its tasting notes.

They both have soft tannins with lower acidity, and when it comes to alcohol, they have the same range (12-13.5% ABV).

However, Pinot Noir can produce wines with 14-15% ABV in warmer climates.

Main Differences

Pouring Bottle of Pinot Grigio on a Glass

History

Pinot Grigio (or French Pinot Gris) and Noir come from France’s Burgundy region. The Pinot Grigio and Noir grapes are related, and DNA evidence shows they have similar genetic characteristics.

Production Process

Growing Region

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir grow in Burgundy, France. The cool climates in France help Pinot Noir and Grigio wine grapes to grow at their best.

“Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, two distinct worlds in a bottle, embodying elegance and vibrancy, offering a delightful dance of flavors.”

– Liquor Laboratory

But both grape varieties are easily affected by the region’s climate where they grow.

Pinot Noir, grown in warmer climates, mainly loses its freshness compared to Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris in French word).

Grape Variety

Hand Holding a Glass of Red Wine with Grapes on a Background

Pinot Noir wine is made from a red wine grape variety, while Pinot Grigio wine is made using a white wine grape variety. But they both belong to the Vitis Vinifera species.

  • Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) is made from Pinot Grigio grapes.
  • Pinot Noir is crafted from the Pinot Noir grape juice.

Warm vs Cool Climate

As mentioned, the climate affects wine production (worldwide) of both grape varieties.

While they’re at their best in cooler climates, like Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir tends to lose its quality in warmer climates, like California.

Alcohol Content & Aroma

The alcohol content of Pinot Grigio is typically 10-14%, while Noirs have an average ABV of 11.5-15%. So, Pinot Noir has higher alcohol levels.

Regarding the Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir aromas, we like Pinot Noir for its black cherry, oak (from oak barrels), and pepper scents (like in roast chicken).

As for Pinot Grigio, it’s also fruity, with green apple, white peach, pear, and stone fruit aromas. It’s mild, so it feels soothing to the nose.

Read: Top Pinot Grigios Under $30

Flavor Profile & Tannins 

man Opening a Bottle of Pinot Grigio Wine

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir wine taste sweet with citrus flavors and a light body.

Pinot Grigio has a more delicate flavor making it an ideal complement to fruit dishes like salad and yogurt. It’s a balanced white wine with subtle green fruit flavors.

In some varieties of Pinot Grigio, such as those in the Alsace region, Pinot Grigio wines have floral notes.

Pinot Noir has a more earthy taste with bold red fruit flavors. It’s light and refreshing with cherry, violets, chocolate, baking spice, and mocha notes in oak-aged versions.

Moreover, the tannins in Pinot Grigio are imperceptible due to how the red/purplish skins of the grape are removed following pressing.

Pinot Noir is low in tannins but feels silky and fresh on the mouth, even in just a sip.

Residual Sugar & Acidity

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir have different sweetness levels but are traditionally dry wines.

Pinot Grigio is often in the semi-sweet to sweet varieties and doesn’t have the high acidity like most wines.

Like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noirs have a vibrant red fruity flavor and acid flavors but little residual sugar. Both Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio have similar sweet-yet-dry characteristics.

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Food Pairings

Pinot Grigio pairs well with salty food like olives and french fries, while Pinot Noir pairs well with grilled fish, shellfish, and light seafood dishes.

As for food pairings, stunning Pinot Noirs go well with pasta, pizza, ratatouille, lean meats, and roasted chicken.

How It’s Served & Stored

Pouring Pinot Grigio Wine on a Glass

Pinot Grigio is a great wine [1] to drink at 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold temperatures enhance the crisp acidity and green fruit flavors.

It’s best served in a standard wine glass or a Champagne (sparkling wine) flute.

“My only regret in life is that I did not drink more wine.”

– Ernest Hemingway, American Novelist

Pinot Noir red wines are better served at room temperature, around 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ideally, it’s best served in a Burgundy wine glass with a wide opening that lets in plenty of oxygen to produce vibrant flavors and enjoy its bright acidity.

Price Point & Popularity

When it comes to the price, in the Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio debate, the latter is affordable, while the former is hardly inexpensive.

Pinot Noirs, available in France, Oregon, California, and Australia, is an excellent entry-level wine costing around $40.

Grigios are way more affordable, costing around $10-$30. Pinot Grigio white wines made in Northern Italy (Italian wine) usually cost roughly $10, and the same grape wine made in Alsace costs about $30. But how long does Pinot Grigio last?

FAQs Related to Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio

What is the difference between Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio?

Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio are two distinct grape varieties used to produce different styles of wine, each with its unique characteristics.

What is Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape known for producing light to medium-bodied red wines. It is revered for its complex flavors, which can include notes of red fruit, earthiness, spice, and sometimes a hint of floral or herbal nuances.

What is Pinot Grigio?

Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris, is a white wine grape that typically produces light, crisp, and refreshing white wines. It is known for its bright acidity, citrus flavors, and delicate floral aromas.

How do the flavors of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio differ?

Pinot Noir wines often have flavors of red berries (such as cherry, raspberry, or strawberry), along with earthy or spicy notes, depending on the winemaking style and terroir. Pinot Grigio wines, on the other hand, are characterized by citrus fruit flavors (such as lemon, lime, or green apple) and floral or mineral undertones.

Are Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio served at different temperatures?

Yes, Pinot Noir is typically served at slightly cooler temperatures than Pinot Grigio. Pinot Noir is often served at around 55-60°F (13-15°C) to highlight its delicate aromas and flavors, while Pinot Grigio is served colder, around 45-50°F (7-10°C), to enhance its crispness and freshness.

Which regions are known for producing high-quality Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio wines?

Pinot Noir is famously associated with Burgundy in France, as well as regions like Oregon’s Willamette Valley and California’s Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties. Pinot Grigio is widely produced in northern Italy, particularly in the regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige, as well as in Alsace, France, and parts of Germany and the United States.

Final Thoughts

In this Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir comparison, it’s clear that they couldn’t be more different despite having the same DNA, history, growing region, and popularity.

Both are great wines and a good food pairing. But we can’t deny their differences in flavor profile, ABV, acidity, tannins, sugar, aroma, and price point.

For wine drinkers looking for an affordable wine with good acidity that’s fruity and refreshing, go for Grigios, and for those who want sweeter with a higher ABV, opt for Noirs.

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/wine
  2. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/lifestyle/food-and-cooking/dailymeal-here-s-why-pinot-noir-is-the-healthiest-wine-you-can-drink-20180312-story.html
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