The Pinot Grigio white wines are the wines the professional wine community most loves to hate. Frowned upon by wine experts, and particularly those who want to be conceived as wine experts, these wines are frequently used as an example of how the uneducated masses of wine buyers will buy anything regardless of quality. So what has Pinot Grigio done to get such a bad reputation? And is it in any way deserved?
The popularity of Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is the second most sold white wine in the US, second only to Chardonnay, and its popularity is growing. You and me and an ever-increasing number of ordinary people really enjoy our glass of Pinot Grigio. It is a very popular wine and being popular is not a quality that the wine snobs hold in very high regard. They much prefer their wines to be exclusive and ideally only known to a select few. Therefore wine experts and people that consider themselves connesseurs of fine wines are forever critical of the these wines. I have personally been given the cold stare by the wine stewart when ordering a Pinot Grigio from a reputable restaurant. It was almost like he took my order as a personal insult, and he obviously thought that their extensive wine list was completely wasted on someone like me.
So why the bad reputation?
So are there any valid reasons for this contempt? Well, yes and no. There is no denying that there are quite a few bland and uninteresting wines out there. When not grown with care, and treated only as a quick to market wine, the wines can be bland, dull and uninteresting. The grapes ripen early and there is a temptation for the producers to harvest the grapes early when more time on the vines would have added to the depth and spiciness of the final wine. Some Italian producers have also been known to over harvest their soil, and thereby producing wines of an inferior quality.
However this is not a fault of the grape itself, and one could easily argue that there exists plenty of inferior Pinot Noir wines on the marked, despite the Pinot Noir grape being such a critical favorite. Comparing the two grapes they are in fact remarkably similar. This is not so surprising when you consider that the Pinot Grigio grape is a mutation of the original Pinot Noir grape.
So judged by the grapes alone, there is clearly no reason to dislike the Pinot Grigio more than any other wine. But there is one more thing that has tarnished the reputation of these wines, and that is the Santa Margarita. In the US the Santa Margarita is synonymous with Pinot Grigio wine. It defines what these wines are supposed to be, and is one of the most recognized brand is the wine world. But is it the best of these wines? Not by a long shot. In my opinion there are dozens of better and more exciting wines out there for those that dare to try something new.
Hidden gems for does that dare to try
The grapes are very affected by both the climate where it is grown and the production methods used by its growers, so the characteristics of the wines very greatly from place to place. An Alsace wine is very different from a north Italian wine. And a fruity New Zealand wine can be miles different from the California variety.
The truth is that there are many dedicated wine producers putting hard work and pride into producing wines that can match the finest Chardonnays or Riesling wines. Want some proof? Then treat yourself to a bottle of itaian Collis Orientali del Fruili Pinot Grigio, or perhaps a Evesham Wood Pinot Gris Estate from Oregon, and I think you will have no other choice than to agree with me.