Shakespeare may have wondered aloud, “to be or not to be” and while many folks believe the old barge is merely contemplating life; whether to live or not to live would be better. I say that because he later contemplated, whether it would be better to suffer under the burden of riches or take up arms against his troubles.
"Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles”Personally I’d opt for the outrageous fortune [I do like the sound of that]. But no matter which side of the argument you're on, one thing is clear, one does not have to make any life-altering decisions in choosing Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio, to that point there’s no question.
Today’s post will also revolve around the wonderful grape variety that can be confusing to some and still to others it's all the same. But if you're curious as I was to find why the same grape has two different names and why does the same grape with different names bring with it two very different styles. Then stick around a bit as I attempt to give you the readers-digest version what is going on with this wildly popular grape.
Identity Crisis: I say Pinot Gris and you say Pinot Grigio but hold on a minute, it’s not that simple. Some folk thinks it’s just "You say tomato, I say tomahto" conversation. Technically they’re the same grape, but with different clones, climates and wine making styles it would seem we have two completely different grapes. The truth is while they are the same grape; it’s also true they’re two different styles. So on the next trip to the wine-shop; it's a good idea to keep in mind these differences, so you can make smart shopping and food pairing decisions.
Gris vs Grigio: So what you will typically find is that in
Pinot Scoop: I want to help you keep your Pinot's straight, so please take note of this important distinction; Pinot Blanc is not the same as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. Pinot Blanc is a further mutation of the Pinot Boir grape and another story by itself, for another time.
Stylistic Differences: What you are going to find across the board is that most if not all the Pinot Grigio wines created in Italy tend to be typically dry [not sweet with low RS] and light, white flowers, almonds a mineral taste to it. On the flip side of the coin, [speaking in general terms] Californian variants of Pinot Grigio tend to be richer and lemony or citrusy in flavor, but still have good acid and refreshing minerality.
Now for our French friends and their New World counterparts in
[Of course with exceptions to every rule, allowing for variation. Some producers in Oregon make their PG in a dry style with very little RS]
While in Oregon PG can be found mostly from wineries of the
What to Pair: These wines are such a great alternative to a California Chardonnay and many are very inexpensive. You’ll often find Pinot Grigio pairs well with a large variety of light or mild-flavored dishes that are still on the "thick" side of the equation. For example; chicken in a rich white-wine sauce, holds its own nicely against richer flavors. But for many [myself included], light dishes like Clams, Mussels and Oysters are the perfect pairing partners with Pinot Grigio.
Conversely, if you find yourself in a spicy situation food wise, just adjust your choice a little and grab yourself some Alsatian Pinot Gris, that RS [residual sugar levels vary] will put the fire out and the acidity will refresh you palate clearing the way like a cleansing rinse, allowing all those brilliant spicy flavors to come through again and again.
Which ever style you choose, remember they’re best served chilled and kept in a cool sleeve to maximize your enjoyment and in my opinion even more so with Pinot Grigio.
If you want to explore these two  styles further, I'd recommend you do so via purchasing the four bottles I've listed below. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites [four great wines] I would like to recommend to you, which I know will help you see the differences quickly; the contrast will be night and day.
1. Schoffit Pinot Gris Rangen Clos Saint Theobald
[This one will cost you a pretty penny but it’s well worth the price of admission]
2. Willakenzie Estate
Pinot Gris Oregon
4. Attems Pinot Grigio