For seasoned and budding wine enthusiasts, Pinot Noir vs. Pinot Grigio may seem like a rudimentary comparison. However, their highly nuanced qualities suggest otherwise!
Although these two wines share certain commonalities and clear distinctions, understanding how they all come together will elevate your drinking experience with each.
If you are curious to try a new type of wine to indulge in or simply looking to learn more details to make an informed purchase, this article serves as a guide on everything you need to know about Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.
- The origins and production of the two wines
- Styles and characteristics
- A comprehensive overview of their similarities and differences, including when and how they are best enjoyed.
Let’s get straight into it!
Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio Comparison
Pinot Noir is a red wine, while Pinot Grigio is a white wine. They are, however, part of the Pinot wine category because they are both made from the same Burgundian grape.
In this section, we’ll cover each of their components and explore the distinguishing factors that will help lead you toward your preference.
Origin and Production
Historically, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio are known to originate from Burgundy, France. Both wines are currently being cultivated in different wine regions around the world.
Pinot Noir: Although Burgundy is famously regarded as the home of Pinot Noir, places like New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Austria, and areas in the Pacific Northwest of the US such as Oregon and Northern California have come to produce their own renditions of the wine.
Pinot Grigio: Known to have mutated from the red grape of Pinot Noir, this wine was originally a form of Pinot Gris before eventually spreading to Northern Italy and becoming mass-produced as Pinot Grigio.
Today, the wine is being made in vineyards across the world in places such as Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and Washington State in the US.
Both Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio come from grapes with thin skins and are early-ripening. Although both are red, Pinot Grigio has a more grayish-green tone while Pinot Noir is a much darker red.
Pinot Noir: Once harvested around late August to October, the pressed grape juice is fermented in either steel or oak but not often aged fully.
Pinot Grigio: Once harvested around August and September, the grapes are pressed and the clear grape juice is fermented for about three months in oak or stainless steel vats.
Style and Characteristics
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio have very different characteristics in terms of their color and body but are both considered dry wines.
Pinot Noir: As a rich red wine, the color of Pinot Noir can range from a rare light red to a dark burgundy or violet hue. It is categorized as having a light to medium body but still exhibits a fuller texture.
Pinot Grigio: As a dry white wine, Pinot Grigio has a yellowish to pale gold tone and some varieties can range from clear to a more prominent yellow tone. It is mostly considered a light-bodied wine with a refreshing texture.
Being that one is red wine and the other is white, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio exude vastly different scents while sharing common elements as well.
Pinot Noir: Typically, Pinot Noirs present savory fruity and floral hints mixed with forest and mushroom earth tones in their aroma.
Pinot Grigio: The freshness of Pinot Grigio can excite the senses with perfectly balanced green apple, white peach, and pear aromas with hints of lemon and lime.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio are both known to have moderate acidity levels but can vary depending on their growing climate.
Pinot Noir: The high levels of acidity in Pinot Noir bring a vibrancy that greatly accentuates its red fruit flavors.
Pinot Grigio: The refreshing crispness and gentle mouthfeel of Pinot Grigio are due to its bright medium to high acidity.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio each provide a remarkably distinct tasting experience due to the contrast in their textures.
Pinot Noir: When aged in oak barrels, Pinot Noir can exhibit notes of vanilla spices. Its complex tasting profile delivers red fruity flavors like strawberry, raspberry, and cherry.
Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigios have dry citrus flavors and possess notes of pear, apricot, green apple, orange, lemon, and lime.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio respond well to both barrel and steel aging but can differ from a storage and consumption standpoint.
Pinot Noir: Higher quality Pinot Noirs are incredibly smooth and can age well up to about twenty years.
Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigios are best consumed soon after production because their crispness can weaken if stored for more than three years.
Storage and Serving
Since Pinot Noir is a red wine and Pinot Grigio is a white wine, there are differences in what temperature and glass they should be served in.
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is best served at around room temperature or 12-18°C / 54-65°F in a Burgundy glass. Bottles can be ideally stored for 5 to 10+ years.
Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio is best served in colder temperatures at about 7-10°C / 45-50°F in either a Champagne flute or standard wine glass. Bottles can be ideally stored for 2 to 3 years.
The alcohol content of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio can vary depending on their fermentation process.
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir alcohol levels can generally range from 12% to 15%.
Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio alcohol levels can generally range from 11% to 14%.
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio are both relatively inexpensive compared to other wines on the market.
Pinot Noir: A bottle of Pinot Noir can generally cost around $15 – $40 and higher quality bottles from certain regions can range from $100 – $1000+.
Pinot Grigio: A bottle of Pinot Grigio can generally cost around $10 – $30.
Which Is Better: Pinot Noir Or Pinot Grigio?
Depending on your pairing with the types of food, occasion, and season, one can be more appropriately matched with the other.
Pinot Noir is a luscious full-textured red wine perfect for the dinner table. It is best suited for special events or holidays, and pairs well with many dishes due to its savory versatility.
These can include lean beef, braised pork, duck, pizza, prime rib, burgers, and roast vegetables like mushrooms.
- Richer red wine
- Pairs well with hearty dishes
- Suitable for special occasions
- Ideal for cooler seasons
Pinot Grigio is a refreshing white wine that always hits the spot. It is best suited for casual get-togethers and pairs well with light or salty foods with basic seasoning.
These can include turkey, dried fruit, seafood, chicken, veggies, bright cheeses, and pastas with simple herbs.
- Lighter white wine
- Great for light, summery foods
- Suitable for casual gatherings
- Ideal for warmer seasons
Summary of the Differences Between Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio
|Key Differences||Pinot Noir||Pinot Grigio|
|Origin and Production||Originated in Burgundy New Zealand, Chile, Germany, Austria, and the Pacific Northwest of the US, (Oregon and Northern California)||Mutated from the red grape of Pinot NoirPopularized in Northern Italy Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and Washington State in the US|
|Winemaking Process||Harvested around late August to OctoberFermented in either steel or oak but not often aged fully||Harvested around August and SeptemberFermented for about three months in oak or stainless steel vats|
|Style and Characteristics||Rich red wineRare light red to a dark burgundy or violet hueLight to medium body but still exhibits a fuller texture||Light white wineYellowish to pale gold tone, varieties can range from clear to a more prominent yellow tone Light-bodied wine with a refreshing texture|
|Aroma||Forest and mushroom earthtonesSavory fruity and floral hints||Perfectly balanced green apple, white peach, and pear aromas Hints of lemon and lime|
|Acidity||High levels of acidity||Medium to high acidity|
|Flavor Profile||Complex tasting profile Red fruity flavors like strawberry, raspberry, and cherryNotes of vanilla spices||Dry citrus flavorsNotes of pear, apricot, green apple, orange, lemon, and lime|
|Aging||Can age well up to about twenty years||Can weaken if stored for more than three years|
|Storage and Serving||12-18°C / 54-65°F in a Burgundy glass Ideally stored from 5 to 10+ years||7-10°C / 45-50 °F in either a Champagne flute or standard wine glassIdeally stored for 2 to 3 years|
|Alcohol Percentage||12% to 15%||11% to 14%|
|Price||$15 – $40 up to $100 – $1000+||$10 – $30|
Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio are essential in any wine-tasting journey. Both are widely beloved and celebrated all over the world, with each offering something unique to the palate. Here is a list of their most notable differences:
- Pinot Noir is a rich red wine and Pinot Grigio is a light white wine.
- Pinot Noir has red fruity flavors, while Pinot Grigio has more citrus flavors.
- Pinot Noir pairs well with hearty dishes, while Pinot Grigio pairs well with light foods.
Pinot Noir Recommendation: Kosta Browne Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
One of the best products coming from Sonoma County, this world-class wine brings freshness and energy to the table through its juicy acidity and fleshy fruit flavors.
Pinot Grigio Recommendation: Domini Del Leone Pinot Grigio 2021
Coming from its vineyard on the outskirts of Venice, this tart and fruity wine bursts with life as a Pinot Grigio and offers a unique concentration and structured yet playful mouthfeel.
Pinot Grigio is generally sweeter than Pinot Noir. Its sweetness levels can range from 15 g/L to 100 g/L, while Pinot Noir can range from 12 g/L to 30 g/L.
Pinot Noir is considered to be a dry wine with a light to medium body and high acidity.
Since Pinot Grigio is categorized as a dry white wine with high acidity levels, its residual sugar is on the low end and would generally be considered as not sweet.
Generally, no. Pinot Noir is a rich red wine but white Pinot Noir wines do exist and are less common.
Pinot Noir has higher alcohol levels that can range from 12% to 15% while Pinot Grigio ranges from 11% to 14%.
Yes. Pinot Noir has a rich cultural heritage and an elegant richness as a wine.
- Moscato vs Riesling: A Sweet Wine Showdown - December 8, 2023
- Ideal Temp for Red Wine Storage: A Comprehensive Guide - December 6, 2023
- Top 10 Low-Calorie Sparkling Wines for Guilt-Free Enjoyment - December 4, 2023