What is it that makes us deem something as “classic?” Timelessness. The wine world is classic in and of itself, as so many of us longingly romance about the ‘stories behind the bottle.’ Today we explore one of the ‘King Classics:’ Pinot Gris. A varietal so sought after that in the 1300s, Emperor Charles IV had vine cuttings imported from France and replanted in Hungary by Ciscerian monks along the mountainside. With over 71,000 acres planted globally, it is one of the few grapes that are grown worldwide. Pinot Gris remains one of the trickiest varietals for Sommelier’s to decipher in blind tastings because of it’s varying nature.
Pinot Gris, a mutation of Pinot Noir, has grown in the Burgundy region of France since the Middle Ages. It is named for its signature bluish-gray grapes that grow in pine cone shaped clusters (Pinot Gris = Gray Pinecone in French). Depending on where the grapes are grown, the character can vary greatly; from floral and honey to saline and herbaceous.
Some go-to tasting notes to remember when buying/pairing Pinot Gris:
- Alsatian (French) Pinot Gris is full-bodied with floral bouquet, honey notes, and oily texture.
- Italian Pinot Grigio is much lighter in body, very dry, with zesty citrus notes.
- American Pinot Gris has less acidity than the others, with big fruit profiles.
When pairing food and wine, the easiest standby to follow is acidity matching. For example, a big acidic steak requires the acid of a bold red wine to cut the fat of the meat. Thus, a dry and zesty wine such as Pinot Gris pairs well with fish, white meat, vegetables (both raw and cooked) fennel, thyme, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, all-spice, and semi-soft goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses.
Go celebrate the grape that captivated so many of our ancestors!
May we suggest...
Wrap up August with fish tacos or some DIY sushi with some Okanagan favourites such as Burrowing Owl and Gray Monk’s Pinot Gris. And for the adventurous, throw a Gris tasting party with bottles from various countries and compare with friends!