Is Pinot Grigio a Dry or Sweet Wine?

Is Pinot Grigio a Dry or Sweet Wine

Is Pino Grigio a dry or sweet wine?  Pinot Grigio wines tend to be on the drier side, although the level of dryness depends largely on how the wine is prepared.  Pinot Grigio refers to wine made from a specific cultivar of grape, which is believed to be descended from the Pinot Noir grape. 

The Pinot Grigio grape consists of grayish-blue or grayish-purple grapes which grow in roughly cone shaped clusters.  They are used to make white wines, often originating from France or Italy. 

Although the Pinot Grigio can be used to make a slightly sweeter version of the wine, most Pinot Grigio wines tend to be dry wines.

Dry vs Sweet wine

What exactly is the difference between a dry and a sweet wine?  Simply put, a dry wine is a wine with a lower sugar content, whereas sweet wines have a much higher content of sugar.  Sugar content as low as below 2% is typical with dry wines.  On the other hand, very sweet wines can have a sugar content percentage in the double digits.  All grapes contain sugar when they are first harvested.  During the fermentation process, much of the sugar is converted into alcohol.  In fact, if there was no sugar, it would be impossible for the yeast to turn grape juice into alcohol.  The level of sugar with a wine depends on a variety of factors, to include the level of sugar within the grape cultivar, whether it is harvested when it is ripe or less ripe, the completeness of the fermentation process, and other factors.  The terroir of a wine can also influence it’s sweetness, as warmer climates tend to produce wines with more sugar.  Finally, winemakers can even add sugar to a wine to further enhance its sweetness.  Ultimately, the wine maker purposefully and carefully manipulates these various qualities to produce a wine that has the desired level of dryness or sweetness.

What Does Not Determine Dryness

Strictly speaking, the dryness or sweetness of a wine largely stems from the sugar content of the wine.  There are other characteristics which influence the taste of a wine, but do not make a wine more or less dry.  The level of fruitiness of a wine refers to the degree to which different fruit notes can be tasted within a wine.  This does not necessarily indicate a wine which is high in sweetness.  Pinot Grigio, for example, has citrus notes, although this does not necessarily make it a sweet wine.  Conversely, there could be a wine with high sugar content which is not dominated by strong fruity notes.  Similarly, the acidity of a wine is a quality which does not necessarily mandate its dryness.  Next, the alcohol content of a wine does not determine its dryness.  There are very high alcohol content wines of both the dry and sweet variety, and vice versa.  Finally, whether a wine is red or white has no bearing on whether it is sweet or dry.  There are very dry red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, as well as very sweet red wines, such as Lambrusco or Maury.  Similarly, white wines such as Tokaji or White Port are sweet, whereas others such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay are dry.  Although these factors can make it more difficult for a novice to determine the dryness of a wine, most experienced wine tasters should be able to discern these differences.

What is Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio refers to a grape cultivar originally found in the Burgandy region of France.  The grape consists of a grayish blue or purple color, which is why the wine is named Grigio (italian for gray), or Gris (French for gray).  It is believed that Pinot Grigio grapes may have descended from the Pinot Noir variety.  Pinot Grigio gradually spread from France to Italy, where the name changed from Pinot Gris to Pinot Grigio.  This grape variety is used to make a white wine.  it is known for being a light wine with citrus tones and an acidic quality.  Pinot Gris is grown largely in the Alsace region of France, while Pinot Grigio is grown in the Lombardy region of Italy.  Pinot Grigio in its Italian form has grown to become one of the most popular varieties of wine worldwide.  In fact, it’s popularity has made it such a globally widespread wine that a few people have unjustly dismissed it as a cheap low-quality wine.

Is Pinot Grigio Dry or Sweet?

Considering all of the different factors which go into developing the level of sweetness within a wine, it is possible for a single variety of grape to create wines with varying levels of sweetness.  Indeed, depending on what part of the world a certain wine is made, it can have characteristics which deviate from the way the wine tastes in its country of origin.  However, it is common for wines made from a certain grape to be similar in constitution, due to tradition and similar styles of wine production.  As a general rule, Pinot Grigio wines tend to be medium-dry white wines.  However, the level of sweetness for a Pinot Grigio also depends on where the wine is made.  Pinot Grigios made in Italy tend to be drier and zestier, with a light and acidic quality. while Pinot Grigios (known as Pinot Gris) in France tend to be a tad sweeter compared to its Italian counterpart.  Regardless, both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are closer to the drier end of the spectrum, compared to sweet wines such as Moscato and Sauternes.


Dry wines contain very low sugar content, due to the level of fermentation, variety of wine used, the terroir of the wine, and other factors.  On the other end, sweet wines have a much higher sugar content.  The dryness-sweetness dichotomy is unrelated to other factors of wine quality, to include alcohol content, acidity, fruitiness, etc.  The Pinot Grigio grape, grown largely in France and Italy, can be used to create wines of varying levels of dryness.  French Pinot Gris wines tend to be slightly sweeter than the Italian Pinot Grigio, whereas the Pinot Grigio is a solidly dry white wine.  However, in general, Pinot Grigio wines are considered to be a dry white wine.