Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir: Comparing Great Wine Varieties

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir are frequently mistaken for one another, but they possess distinct characteristics. While they share some similarities, it’s important to understand the factors that set them apart. 

Let’s delve into the key differentiating factors between these popular wines to determine which is best suited for your wine collection.

Read this article: ”Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir: Comparing Great Wine Varieties” for more information!

Summary of the Differences Between Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio

Certainly! Here’s a comparison table highlighting the main differences between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir:

Key Differences Pinot Noir Pinot Grigio
Origins Produced in Italy but originating in Burgundy, France Derived from Pinot Noir, originated from Burgundy, France
Grape Characteristics Thin, red-skinned grape Unique grey-blue skinned grape
Appearance Red wine Golden-colored white wine serving
Temperature Room temperature (12-18°C or 54-65°F) Cold temperature (6-8°C or 42-47°F)
Tasting Notes Light, delicate red wine with notes of cherries, violets, and mushrooms Fresh, zesty white wine with notes of green apple, pear drops, and lemons
Food Pairings Mushroom, brie, and cured meats Lemony risottos, simple pasta dishes, and fish dishes with fresh herbs
Price Generally more expensive Generally more affordable


Please note that these are general characteristics, and individual wines can vary based on winemaking styles, regions, and vintages. Nonetheless, this table provides a concise overview of the primary distinctions between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir.

1. Overview of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir are two distinct wine varieties that have gained popularity and captivated wine enthusiasts around the world. Let’s explore their characteristics, flavor profiles, and origins.

About Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio, also known as Pinot Gris in some regions, is a white wine made from the Pinot Grigio grape. It originated in the Burgundy region of France but is now widely produced in various countries, including Italy, where it has achieved great acclaim.

Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Noir
White wine made from the Pinot Grigio grape is called Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Gris in some places. (Source: Internet)

Flavor Profile: Pinot Grigio typically offers a light to medium body with refreshing acidity. It is known for its crispness, delicate flavors, and citrusy notes. The palate may reveal hints of lemon, green apple, pear, and sometimes tropical fruits. Pinot Grigio is often enjoyed for its bright and zesty character.

About Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, famously associated with the Burgundy region in France, is a red wine known for its elegance and complexity. It is made from the Pinot Noir grape, which is notoriously finicky to grow but produces exquisite wines when handled with care.

About Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a red wine renowned for its elegance and complexity. It is most commonly associated with the Burgundy region of France. (Source: Internet)

Flavor Profile: Pinot Noir exhibits a range of flavors depending on the region and winemaking techniques. Generally, it offers a medium body with moderate tannins. The wine can display notes of red berries, cherries, plums, and earthy undertones. Pinot Noir is often praised for its aromatic complexity, silky texture, and balanced acidity.

2. The Difference Between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir

1. Origins

Pinot Noir, renowned for producing exquisite wines that capture attention, hails from the esteemed Burgundy region in France.

While Pinot Grigio was first made in the French province of Burgundy, but it is now widely produced in many nations, including Italy, where it has won widespread acclaim.

Here is a brief overview of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio from the perspective of regions and wine styles:

Pinot Noir:

  • Pinot Noir thrives in cool to moderate climates and is a delicate grape with thin skin.
  • It is cultivated worldwide, although it can lose freshness and become overly ripe in warm climates.
  • In cool climates like Burgundy, France, expect aromas of red fruit, subtle oak, mushroom, and forest floor.
  • In warm climates like California, anticipate ripe red fruit, intense vanilla flavors, and the possibility of mushroom and forest floor notes.

Pinot Grigio:

  • Pinot Grigio excels in cool climates, maturing relatively early and developing high sugar levels.
  • Depending on the vinification style, this can result in a high-alcohol wine if fermented to dryness or a sweeter wine.
  • Minerally and dry Pinot Grigio is primarily produced in northern parts of Italy, specifically Lombardia, Trentino Alto Adige, and Veneto.
  • Fruity and dry Pinot Grigio is produced in various regions such as northeastern Italy, Toscana, Abruzzo, Sicilia, USA (California, Oregon, Washington), and New Zealand.
  • Fruity and sweet Pinot Gris is primarily associated with Alsace, France.

These descriptions offer a quick overview of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, highlighting their preferred regions and associated wine styles.

2. Grape Characteristics

Here is a quick comparison of the grapes used to make Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Noir is produced from Pinot Noir grapes.

Pinot Grigio is made with Pinot Grigio grapes.

Pinot Noir is a type of red wine grape, while Pinot Grigio is a type of white wine grape. They are both members of the Vitis vinifera genus.

3. Serving

Here is a quick comparison of serving and storage methods for Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Noir should be served in a Burgundy glass after being decanted for 30 minutes, at 55 to 64 °F (13 to 18 °C).

5 years for regular bottles and 10+ years for the best bottles are the recommended storage times.

You shouldn’t decant Pinot Grigio. The style affects both the serving temperature and the length of storage.

Serve Pinot Grigio that is minerally and fruity between 45 and 50 °F (7 and 10 °C) in a Pinot Grigio or Viognier glass.

For typical bottles, a storage period of two to three years is advised.

In a Pinot Grigio or Viognier glass, serve off-dry Pinot Gris between 45 and 50 °F (7 and 10 °C). In a Fortified glass, serve sweet Pinot Gris between 43 and 56 °F (6 and 8 °C).

4. Tasting Notes

Here is a quick comparison of the taste profiles of Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Noir is a dry to off-dry wine that ranges in color from light to medium garnet.

Red berries, raspberries, cherries, and strawberries are just a few of the common red fruit aromas found in Pinot Noir. Leather, spice, truffle, and tobacco tertiary flavors are to be anticipated.

Pinot Grigio is known for its dryness, high acidity, light body, lemon, and apple notes. It has a minerally and fruity style.

On the other hand, Pinot Gris (Alsace) has more body, less acidity, more complexity, and is sweeter.

Here is a brief description of the typical flavors of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris:

  • Apple, lemon zest, mineral, and Pinot Grigio Minerally and Dry.
  • Pinot Grigio Fruity and Dry: creamy, white peach, apple, lemon, and pear.
  • Pinot Gris Fruity and Sweet: ripe pear, honey, ginger, and sweet lemon candies.

5. Appearance

The color of a grape’s skin significantly influences the resulting wine’s hue.

While it can be more challenging with red-skinned grape varieties, it becomes useful when distinguishing between Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

  • Pinot Noir produces a red wine due to its grapes having red-colored skin.
  • Pinot Grigio yields golden-hued white wines.

The distinct appearances of these wines make them easily distinguishable from one another.

6. Price

Here is a brief overview of the price comparison between Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio:

Pinot Noir:

  • Pinot Noir is generally not inexpensive, but there are affordable options available.
  • Entry-level Pinot Noir bottles from California, Oregon, France, and Australia can often be found below $40.
  • If you’re willing to spend up to $100, you can find great bottles from California, Oregon, Italy, and France.
  • Outstanding bottles priced over $100+ are typically from France, particularly the Côte-d’Or region, where prices can reach over $3,000.

Pinot Grigio:

  • Pinot Grigio is known for being an affordable wine.
  • The price range for Pinot Grigio is usually between $10 and $30.
  • Bottles priced around $10 generally represent the IGT Italian style, while the Alsatian style tends to be around $30.

While Pinot Noir can be more expensive, there are options available at various price points. On the other hand, Pinot Grigio is generally considered a more budget-friendly choice.

7. Food Pairings

Below is a concise overview of food pairings for Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio:

Pinot Noir:

  • Pinot Noir is highly versatile and pairs well with various foods.
  • It complements dishes such as ratatouille, bean dishes, pasta, and mushroom pizza.
  • Pinot Noir can surprisingly pair well with grilled fish like salmon and swordfish.
  • Meat options include roast veal, braised pork, venison, duck, or a juicy burger.
  • Recommended cheese choices include Taleggio, Comté, Cheddar, or Pecorino.

Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris:

  • Pairings for Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris depend on the style.
  • Pinot Grigio pairs well with salads, salty foods like French fries and olives, chicken, shellfish, and grilled fish.
  • Recommended cheese pairings for minerally Pinot Grigio include soft cheese like Philadelphia and creamy cheese like Brie. For fruity Pinot Grigio, opt for semi-soft cheese like Fontina and firm cheese like Beaufort.
  • Pinot Gris complements stronger flavors such as foie gras, creamy sauces, grilled vegetables, rich veal, pork, and meaty fish.
  • When pairing cheese with Pinot Gris, consider blue mold cheese like Gorgonzola and hard cheese like Pecorino.

These suggestions provide a brief overview of the food pairings for Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Gris, helping you make enjoyable combinations.

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3. Best Pairings for Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir

The best pairings for Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir can vary based on personal preferences and the specific characteristics of the wine. However, here are some general guidelines:

Best Pairings for Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir
The ideal pairings for Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir can change depending on individual taste and the unique qualities of the wines. (Source: Internet)

Pinot Grigio Pairings

  • Seafood: Pinot Grigio’s crisp acidity and light-bodied nature make it an excellent match for seafood dishes such as grilled fish, shrimp, scallops, and oysters.
  • Salads: It pairs well with light, fresh salads that include ingredients like citrus fruits, green apples, goat cheese, or light vinaigrettes.
  • Light Pasta Dishes: Pinot Grigio complements pasta dishes with light sauces like pesto, lemon-based sauces, or creamy sauces without too much richness.
  • Vegetarian Dishes: It goes well with vegetable-based dishes, including grilled vegetables, vegetarian stir-fries, and light vegetarian pasta.
  • Soft Cheeses: Pinot Grigio pairs nicely with soft, mild cheeses like fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and brie.

Pinot Noir Pairings

  • Poultry: Pinot Noir’s versatility makes it a great match for roasted or grilled chicken, turkey, duck, or game birds. It complements both white and dark meat.
  • Salmon: Pinot Noir’s delicate flavors and acidity work well with salmon dishes, whether it’s grilled, roasted, or served with a light sauce.
  • Mushrooms: The earthy and sometimes forest-floor characteristics of Pinot Noir make it an ideal partner for mushroom-based dishes like mushroom risotto or grilled portobello mushrooms.
  • Pork: Pinot Noir pairs nicely with pork tenderloin, roasted pork, or pork chops, especially when prepared with herbs or fruity glazes.
  • Medium-bodied Cheeses: It complements cheeses like Gruyère, Comté, aged cheddar, and Camembert. Avoid overly strong or pungent cheeses that may overpower the wine.

Remember, these are just general guidelines, and personal preferences can vary. It’s always a good idea to experiment and find your favorite pairings based on your taste preferences and the specific characteristics of the wine you’re enjoying.

4. How to Select the Right Wine for Every Occasion 

When buying wine for a special occasion, there are several perspectives to consider:

  • The theme of the occasion
  • The food that will be served 
  • Your budget

The theme of the occasion

Considering the theme of various occasions, here are some suggestions for popular events:

  • Weddings: Champagne is the timeless choice for its festive nature and versatility with different foods. If you’re seeking an alternative to Champagne, sparkling wines like Prosecco from Italy or Cava from Spain can be excellent options, especially if you have budget constraints.
  • Christmas: For hearty meat dishes, red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot complement them well. If your menu includes seafood or poultry, consider white wines like Chardonnay or Riesling.
  • New Year’s Eve: Similar to Christmas, Champagne or sparkling wine is a popular choice. Alternatively, a light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or a sparkling Rosé can also be a great option. If attending a dinner party, it’s helpful to find out your hosts’ wine preferences in advance. If that’s not possible, bring something you enjoy.
  • Valentine’s Day: Impress your loved one with a romantic and elegant wine like a red Burgundy or a Chianti Classico. If you prefer white wine, a crisp and refreshing Chablis or a rich and buttery California Chardonnay can create a delightful experience.
  • Birthdays: Opt for a wine that the birthday person enjoys. If they prefer red wine, consider Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. For white wine enthusiasts, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay can be excellent choices.

Remember, the most important aspect is selecting wines that you and your guests will enjoy. Don’t hesitate to explore different options and find what works best for your specific occasion.

The food that will be served 

The ideal wine pairing with food depends on the type of food and its flavor profile. In general, white wines are well-suited for lighter foods such as seafood, salads, and poultry, while red wines tend to complement heartier meats like beef and pork.

When indulging in spicy dishes, it’s advisable to select wines with higher acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This is particularly useful to keep in mind when attending a curry dinner, whether at someone’s home or a restaurant that permits bringing your beverages.

For sweeter dishes, opt for wines that possess a touch of sweetness themselves, like Riesling, Moscato, or Gewurztraminer.

When encountering rich and creamy dishes, consider pairing them with full-bodied white wines such as Chardonnay, or a red wine with a higher alcohol content, such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you or your host will be serving a variety of dishes, it can be delightful to offer a blend of different wines to complement each course and enhance the overall dining experience.

Your budget

If you’re on a budget, here are some wine categories to consider that offer impressive options without breaking the bank:

  • Prosecco: Prosecco is a sparkling Italian white wine known for its light and refreshing qualities, making it an excellent choice for special occasions. It’s often more affordable than Champagne, making it a popular and budget-friendly alternative.
  • Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine with subtle notes of cherry, plum, and spice. It pairs well with a wide range of foods, making it a versatile choice for various special occasions. Pinot Noir wines are typically easily accessible and reasonably priced.
  • Riesling: Riesling is a versatile white wine known for its sweetness, lightness, and refreshing character. It can be paired with many different types of cuisine, making it a suitable choice for most occasions. Riesling wines often offer good value for their quality.
  • Malbec: Malbec is a full-bodied red wine with flavors of dark fruit and spice. It pairs well with many dishes, making it a suitable option for various occasions. Malbec wines can offer a robust and satisfying experience while remaining budget-friendly.

Within these wine categories, you should be able to find options that impress without straining your budget. Explore different brands and regions to discover hidden gems that offer great value for their price.

5. Tips on Serving and Storing the Wines Correctly

Serving and storing Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir correctly can enhance your enjoyment of these wines. Here are some tips for each:

Serving Pinot Grigio:

  1. Temperature: Serve Pinot Grigio chilled but not too cold. Aim for a temperature between 45°F (7°C) and 50°F (10°C). This range allows the wine to showcase its refreshing and fruity characteristics.
  2. Glassware: Use a medium-sized white wine glass with a slightly narrow opening to concentrate the aromas and maintain the wine’s temperature. This will help you fully appreciate the delicate flavors and aromatics of the wine.
  3. Pairing: Pinot Grigio pairs well with lighter dishes such as seafood, salads, light pasta dishes, and soft cheeses. Its crisp and refreshing nature complements these flavors nicely.

Storing Pinot Grigio:

  1. Refrigeration: Since Pinot Grigio is typically consumed relatively young, it is best stored in the refrigerator. Keep the bottle sealed tightly to preserve its freshness and vibrant characteristics.
  2. Consumption timeframe: Pinot Grigio is generally intended for immediate consumption, within a year or two of purchase. Its fresh and fruity qualities diminish with extended aging, so it’s best to enjoy it while it’s at its peak.

Serving Pinot Noir:

  1. Temperature: Serve Pinot Noir at a slightly cooler than room temperature, around 55°F (13°C) to 60°F (16°C). This temperature range allows the wine’s complex aromas and flavors to unfold gracefully.
  2. Glassware: Use a larger-bowled wine glass with a wider opening to capture the wine’s aromas and enable it to breathe. This will enhance your sensory experience and bring out the nuances of the wine.
  3. Pairing: Pinot Noir pairs well with a variety of foods, including roasted poultry, grilled salmon, earthy mushrooms, and mild cheeses. Its medium-bodied nature and balanced acidity make it versatile for different dishes.

Storing Pinot Noir:

  1. Cellaring conditions: If you have a high-quality, age-worthy Pinot Noir, consider storing it in a cool, dark, and humid environment, ideally in a wine cellar or a temperature-controlled wine refrigerator. This allows the wine to develop and mature gracefully over time.
  2. Aging potential: While some Pinot Noir wines can benefit from aging, most are designed for relatively early consumption, within three to five years of the vintage. It’s essential to check the specific recommendations provided by the winery or trusted sources to determine the optimal aging potential of your particular bottle.

Remember, serving and storing conditions can slightly vary depending on personal preferences and the specific characteristics of the wine. It’s always a good idea to experiment, explore different producers, and seek guidance from wine professionals to discover what brings you the most enjoyment from each bottle.

6. Making a Decision – Which Wine is Better for You – Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

The red wine with the highest resveratrol content is pinot noir. A full-bodied, dry red wine with low sugar, low calories, and medium alcohol content is produced by the Pinot Noir grape.

The increased resveratrol content in Pinot Noir: 

  • Controls blood pressure and bad cholesterol 
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity 
  • Prevents blood vessel damage 
  • Improves brain health and fights Alzheimer’s and dementia

Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the risk of heart disease and maintain a healthy gut microbiome, are increased by drinking Pinot Noir. 

This alcoholic beverage has a flavor of sweet red fruit and aromas of vanilla and baking spices.

Pinot Grigio

The grape skin is strained to create Pinot Grigio, which lowers the wine’s resveratrol and flavonoid content. But compared to most other whites, it is healthier. 

Tyrosol and caffeic acid, two ingredients in Pinot Grigio, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

The predominant flavor notes of the wine are lime, green apple, and honeysuckle. 

Each type of wine has its advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your preferences or needs, you will choose the right wine for yourself.

7. FAQs

7.1. Pinot Grigio or Pinot Noir, which is preferable?

Taste. Pinot Grigio uses less tannin and less acidity, which gives it a fruitier flavor. This gives it a fruitier flavor that goes well with fruit-based dishes like fruit salad and yogurt. On the other hand, Pinot Noir uses more acidity and tannin, which gives it a more earthy flavor.

7.2. What makes Pinot Grigio so excellent?

Due to its fruity aroma, bone-dry texture, and distinguishable yellow and green apple flavors, the winery’s Pinot Grigio has long been a customer favorite. With a crisp and acidic finish, the wine is simple to drink and easy to clean up.

7.3. The finest Pinot Grigio is produced in which nation?

Most famous for the production of Pinot Grigio are the northeastern Italian regions of Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Trentino, and Alto Adige.

7.4. Does Pinot Grigio have a low price?

Despite not being the most widely planted white wine grape, pinot gris is one of the most well-known. The grape can be used to make exquisite high-end wines, but its true brilliance lies in producing some of the most readily available, approachable, and simple-to-drink wines.

7.5. What is the ideal method for serving Pinot Gris?

Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are examples of light white wines. These wines should be served slightly cooler than heavier white wines, at 45–50° F. At these temperatures, rose wines also taste their best and retain their acidity and crispness.

7.6. How does Pinot Noir stack up against other beverages?

Because the grapes used to make Pinot Noir have thinner skins than those used to make other red wines, the wine is lighter in the body. What distinguishes Pinot Noir are the refined, thin, and delicate notes.

7.7. Why is Pinot Noir distinctive?

Pinot produces mostly light-colored, medium-bodied, low-tannin wines that can frequently go through dumb phases with uneven and unpredictable aging due to the thin skins and low levels of phenolic compounds in the grapes. Young Pinot noir wines frequently have red fruit aromas, such as cherries, raspberries, and strawberries.

7.8. Is Pinot Grigio regarded as a quality beverage?

The second most popular type of white wine sold in the US is pinot gris. With notes of pear and mineral on the nose, it strikes the perfect balance between being dry to off-dry and crisply refreshing.

7.9. What kind of individuals consume Pinot Grigio?

Pinot Grigio is frequently chosen by those who are affable, charming, dependable, and attractive. In addition, this wine shares characteristics with Chardonnay. It is a tasteful, secure, and adaptable white wine option for any occasion. Pinot Grigio drinkers are frequently romantic and seek out excitement in their lives.

7.10. Pinot Grigio is it bitter or sweet?

It’s Dry: Due to its high acidity, Pinot Grigio frequently tastes less sweet than Chardonnay. Examples of the exceptions: There are two instances of sweet Pinot Grigio. A cheap supermarket Pinot Grigio made to appeal to wine drinkers during the workweek is one example.


In summary, Pinot Noir vs Pinot Grigio are distinct wine styles with unique characteristics, despite their shared genetic lineage. Depending on your preference for white or red wine, you will likely have a clear favorite. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate both wines when the occasion calls for it.

I find Pinot Grigio to be perfect for hot summer days. Its refreshing qualities make it an excellent choice for lounging by the pool, especially when served chilled. On the other hand, Pinot Noir is my go-to wine for cozy evenings of Netflix and relaxation. Its delightful flavors and aromas make it a wonderful companion for dinner.

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