Pinot Gris is a grey grape from France that since a couple of decades is rising in popularity in many countries around the world.

Pinot Gris is not, as one might expect, grey in col­our. The grapes can be of var­i­ous col­ours, com­mon­ly in dif­fer­ent shades of or­ange, red and red-blue.

The grey as­pect comes from the mat­ted lustre the grapes grad­u­al­ly take on over the growth season. It is also a naturally low acidity variety, which means that it will have problems to produce quality grapes if grown in too warm surroundings. On the other hand, it will easily produce grapes with high sugar levels, also in fairly cold climates.

Aromas and flavours vary with growth place, from citrus, apples, pears, and honeysuckle, to stone fruit, tropical fruit, spice and bread. If you opt for the Italian Pinot Grigio you can expect to find an extra level of crispiness.

Most Pinot Gris wines you will find are dry or off-dry, with a residual sugar of between 2 and 12 grams/litre or 0.1 – 1.3 °Bx. There are however two wines from Alsace that are radically sweeter, a Late Harvest wine and a “Sélections de Grains Nobles”.

The latter is made from successively handpicked grapes with Noble Rot. A “Sélections de Grains Nobles” made from Pinot Gris must contain residual sugar of a staggering 279 grams/litre, equivalent to 25,16 °Bx.

Food pairing
In Alsace, Pinot Gris is viewed as a wine that will match dishes one would commonly pair with red wine. Game, veal, pork and poultry, particularly when served with rich sauces, roasts, kidneys, mushrooms, risotto, polenta.

It is also delicious when paired with Foie Gras. The wine is best served at 10-12°C/50-54°F.

Where is it grown?
Plantings of Pinot Gris are reported to have increased drastically between 2000 and 2010. In the end of the decade it mounted to 43.687 ha/107,952 ac world-wide. This corresponded to an increase with 24.807 ha/61,299 ac in ten years, placing it as the nineteenth most planted grape on the planet.

  • Italy 17.281 ha/42,702 ac (an increase with 161%), MPG 9
  • USA 5.231 ha/12,927 ac (a fivefold increase), MPG 10
  • Germany 4.517 ha/11,162 ac (an increase with 71%), MPG 6
  • Australia 3.296 ha/8,145 ac (a tenfold increase), MPG 9
  • France 2.674 ha/6,608 ac (an increase with 36%), MPG 32
  • Moldavia 2.042 ha/5,046 ac (not reported in 2000 stat), MPG 11
  • Hungary 1.624 ha/4,013 ac (an increase with 82%), MPG 15
  • New Zealand 1.501 ha/3,709 ac (a tenfold increase), MPG 4
  • Romania 1.301 ha/3,215 ac (a decrease of 46%), MPG 14

Fur­ther­more, there are plant­ings of be­tween 750 – 300 ha/1,853 – 741 ac in Czech Rep, Ukraine, Canada, and Slovenia.

Plantings ranging from 300 ha/741 ac to very small, e.g. of experimental size, are found in Argentina, South Africa, Croatia, Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Luxembourg, Russia, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Brazil, Portugal, and China.

In fourteen of the countries mentioned above, no Pinot Gris plantings were reported in 2000.

The variety’s two-hundred synonyms suggests that it is of reasonably old age. In fact, it has been documented for more than three-hundred years. It is however quite likely that it is much older, but this has so far been difficult to prove.

There are various suggestions as to where it should have originated, where the two most likely are Baden-Würtemberg in Germany and Burgundy in France. Given the difficulty in being sure of which variety that was documented, we have to continue to wait for the definite answer to this question.