What Is Pinot Grigio?

What is pinot grigio? Pinot grigio is a type of white grape grown extensively in Italy. Pinot Grigio is a type of white grape grown extensively throughout Italy. The white grape produces a light, crisp,...

Pinot Grigio is a type of white grape grown extensively throughout Italy. The white grape produces a light, crisp, highly acidic, refreshing white wine. It has varietal aromas of smoke and orange blossom and a weighty, oily texture to the palate. "It is what I call one of the starter wines," says Brian Hays, a chef and culinary instructor at Austin Community College. He has taught at ACC for the past nine years. He says it is a starter wine before a meal because it refreshes a person, and when the acid hits their mouths it cleans the palate and gets the appetite going.

Pinot Grigio is delicate with mild, citrus flavors. It is a popular wine at parties and events because even non-wine drinkers enjoy it. "It is one of the wines I always recommend for people to take to parties because everyone loves it," says Hays. Another great compliment of Pinot Grigio is an economical price that anyone one can appreciate. It is considered a casual delight when at its best, says Fred Tasker, a Knight Ridder newspaper writer, at Miami.com. "Pinot Grigio has a light body and a racy acidity that gives it a little tingle on the tongue." Prior to the 60's, this wine was often heavy, flabby and oxidized and not really popular. Then in 1961, a wine maker at Santa Margherita modernized the wine, making it resemble the flavor of champagne minus the bubbles. He removed the skins immediately after crushing them and made it purely white. He fermented and aged it at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks to keep its fruitiness from vaporizing away. It is planted all over Northern Italy, producing many thin, dry white wine grapes.

Over time it became popular in America, causing Italy to produce more. According to winespectator.com, the United States imported Pinot Grigio more than any other good between 2001 and 2003. Now, Oregon is one of the lead retailers of Pinot Grigio in America. "It is a welcome alternative to the chardonnay boom," says Hays. It is less dependent on oak barrels for flavor than chardonnay. Where chardonnay brings flavors of apple or lemon, Grigio is more likely to resemble pear or melon. "It ages very well, developing rich buttery characteristics," says bbr.com, an Internet e-commerce website specializing in wine. Winemakers in California planted 1,620 acres in the central and south coastal areas to promote growth of this popular wine, but the public has not caught on. Instead Oregon emerged as the talent when producing this wine. Chardonnay production in Oregon has come to a standstill and instead Oregon has focused its attention on producing Pinot Grigio or Gris.

With sweet aromas and honey or smoke flavored components, this wine is best when served chilled. Its color is typically yellow with golden hues. The texture of it is very smooth, but leaves an impression on the palate, says Hays. It pairs nicely with seafood, pasta and cheese.

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