Pinot Grigio is the second most popular wine in the world. It’s a refreshing and versatile wine that most wines drinkers tend to enjoy. Also known as Pinot Gris, this wine is dry, zesty, and acidic. When you pair wine and foods together correctly, the flavors will compliment each other. If you drink a Pinot Grigio with the wrong foods, though, you may not enjoy the flavor of the wine, or food, as much.
What does Pinot Grigio pair with?
Pinot Grigio is best served with light fish dishes, chicken, or bright desserts. It’s acidity helps the wine’s flavor hold up better than other, more delicate, white wines.
Some people argue that Pinot Grigio goes with anything, and if you enjoy the flavor and aroma enough you could probably crack open a bottle at any time. However, if you want to know the best way to enjoy a bottle, read on. We’ll dive into more about Pinot Grigio‘s flavor profile, what dishes it pairs with, and why.
Pinot Grigio Flavor and Aroma Profile
Pinot Grigio is usually a light to medium bodied wine that is dry and acidic, made from grapes of the same name. However, depending on the region where the wine was grown and produced the wines can have different flavors and aromas. Some of these wines are classified as Old World versus New World wine.
Old World and New World refer mostly to the difference in geographic regions. Old World is associated with the wine growing regions in Europe, such as the regions of France, Germany, and Italy where Pinot Grigio was discovered and became popular. New World refers to almost all the other regions of the world, such as wine growing regions in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. New World wines tend to be more oaky and medium bodied, while Old World wines are lighter, holding more to traditional styles.
German Pinot Grigio varieties tend to lean towards medium bodied, balancing the acidity with residual sweetness due to harvesting the grapes later in the season so that they’re more ripe. These wines have flavor notes of honey, crisp apple, or candied lemons. Northern Italian varieties are more dry and light bodied, due to the high mountain regions where the grapes are grown. These wines have flavor notes of lemon, lime, and other citrus.
While technically Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same style of wine, the names can offer insight into slight variations. Pinot Grigio refers to an Italian style of wine, while Pinot Gris refers to the French style. Pinot Grigio is the popular style in the US, usually light bodied and crisp. The Pinot Gris style is more spicy and richer and more likely to be cellared and aged.
Occasionally, you may find a full bodied Pinot Grigio that is very sweet. These wines tend to be from the Alsace region of France. Look for descriptions or notes referring to late harvest, noble rot, or even “Tokay” style.
When experiencing the aroma of a Pinot Grigio wine, you may experience green apple, honeysuckle, melon, and occasionally almond or baking spices. Serving in a u shaped bowl will help open up these delicate flavors and aromas.
Pinot Grigio Main Dish Pairings
Pinot Grigio is best served with light fish or chicken dishes, but the best pairings really depend on what style of wine you pick up. Pay attention to the flavor and aroma notes described by the bottle or from reviews, as well as the wine growing region and alcohol content. It pairs well with light, refreshing dishes, especially with Italian staples such as pasta and risotto.
Here are a few recommended pairings for main dishes for each style of Pinot Grigio.
The lightest bodied Pinot Grigios should be paired with the lightest of shellfish and seafood dishes. The delicate flavor of the wine will bring out the delicate flavors of the seafood. Lemon and other citruses complement the bright acidity in the wine. When buying fish, look for fresh or wild caught options, as frozen options tend to either lack in flavor or overpower with “fishiness.”
Try not to weigh down your meal with heavy sauces. Think butter, lemon, herbs, and light cream, or even salads, fresh vegetables, or light appetizers.
Here are some recipe ideas:
- Orzo and Shrimp Salad from AllRecipes.com
- Spaghetti with Lemon, Chile, and Creamy Spinach from Food and Wine
- Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions from Martha Stewart
- Homemade Sushi from Fifteen Spatulas
Medium bodied Pinot Grigios can stand up to a bit more flavor and depth with food pairings than light bodied versions. Seared and grilled fish, as well as roasted chicken breasts, are great proteins to consider. In its basic form, chicken can be lacking in flavor, but when cooked with butter, herbs, or citrus marinades, the light flavor will really complement the wine. Pasta with light cream sauces or olive oil also pair well.
- Chicken and Lemon Garlic White Wine Sauce from Easy Cooking with Molly
- Pan Fried Lemon Butter Fish from Midwest Foodie Blog
- Shrimp Scampi with Linguine from Food Network
- Risotto Primavera from Bon Appetit
Full bodied Pinot Grigio can be paired with much heavier and richer dishes than lighter bodied counterparts. Sometimes, even veal, lamb, and pork are great choices. Even lightly battered veal and pork can be balanced with the acidity of the wine.
Try meaty fishes, cream sauces, or even foie gras. Avoid any recipes that use heavy or rich sauces, such as a tomato based sauce, or lots of spices.
- Veal Piccata from My Recipes
- Sheet Pan Parmesan Pork Chops and Vegetables from Julie’s Eats and Treats
- Creamy Stuffed Fish Florentine from Goldilock’s Kitchen
- Fish and Chips from The Spruce Eats
Pinot Grigio Appetizer and Dessert Pairings
Wine pairings aren’t just for the main course. Pinot Grigio goes well with appetizers and desserts, as long as the flavors are complimentary. Similar to the meal, try to avoid overly rich appetizers and desserts, allowing the bright, crisp, refreshing flavor of the Pinot Grigio to come through.
For appetizers, consider a buffalo mozzarella caprese salad. The mild, soft cheese helps enhance the earthy flavors of the wine without overpowering it. Seafood is also still a great option for appetizers, such as grilled shrimp satay, seafood tostadas, or even sushi. Other antipastos and salads, as long as they are on the lighter side, are all good choices.
Meat and cheese boards can also compliment the flavor of Pinot Grigio. Consider compiling a board with prosciutto, mozzarella, gruyere, brie, or mild goat cheeses. Fruit and vegetable platters, such as pears, apples, or crudites are also a solid choice.
With dessert, steer clear of heavy flavors such as lava cake or mouse, opting for lighter options. Avoid desserts that are overly sweet. Consider mascarpone stuffed crepes, creme brulee, or even a fruit tart. Mildly sweet brioches, pears or apples with cinnamon and sugar are also good suggestions. Think of desserts that would hold up and refresh on a hot summer afternoon.
Pinot Grigio is a wonderful, refreshing wine, perfect for hot summer days. Feel free to sip it on your own, or with any of your own favorites. Even if you enjoy Pinot with any or every dish, try pairing it with a dish that will bring out the delicate flavors. With the right pairing, your selected Pinot will shine through, and you can enjoy your Pinot Grigio to its fullest.