Wine Flair’s Wine of the Week, an Australian number called Beyond Broke Road Pinot Gris 2018, is probably one that creates a little confusion. That’s because Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, genetically. So why the name difference? And what’s the difference between the wines?
Well, and I’m going to generalize here: the main differences are where the grapes are grown–typically Italy and France but also in USA and obviously, Australia among other places–when they’re harvested, and the styles of the wine.
Pinot Grigio grapes are often harvested earlier and fermented differently, rendering the wine more acidic, more austere, with less fruit, and lighter-bodied. Wines designated Pinot Gris (the grape originated in Burgundy, France and was then brought to Italy and elsewhere) tend to be richer, more flavorful, heavier-bodied, and sometimes a bit higher in alcohol, given their higher sugar content when harvested. And some of them even get some contact with the skins after the grapes are crushed, something that almost never happens with white wines, except in the new-ish so-called “Orange Wines.” Those are a story for another day.
Anyway, you may be more familiar with Pinot Grigio due to the fact that Santa Margherita‘s version, last time I checked, is one of the most popular imported white wines in the United States. And while I try to raise up wines in general, I’d skip; it’s rather thin, uninteresting, and has a mercifully short finish. It’s also far too expensive for what you get, often retailing near $25 and costing up to $60 in a restaurant. For many people, though, it’s an ideal wine for parties and as a house gift, precisely because it’s nondescript and within almost anyone’s comfort zone. But there’s no need to stay there.
Instead, try one from Ferrari-Carano in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley, or a Collalto from Italy, or a Derwent Estate from Tasmania. Either way, have some fun, try both styles, and see what you think!