Home > wine quiz > Weekly Wine Quiz #67: Grape Trivia – Pinot Gris, a.k.a. Pinot Grigio

Weekly Wine Quiz #67: Grape Trivia – Pinot Gris, a.k.a. Pinot Grigio


Pinot Gris cluster, as pictured in Wikipedia

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz! Today’s subject is the grape called Pinot Gris, probably even better known as Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Gris is an old grape, cultivated since the middle ages in various regions in France. It had been shown based on the latest DNA research, that Pinot Gris is a very close relative of Pinot Noir. As you can see from the picture, the color of the grapes are somewhat of the grayish purple, and that what the “Gris”, or “Grigio” in the name stands for – Gray. It is almost a bit surprising that the white wine is made out of a grape with such a color of the skin.

Pinot Gris popularity in the world is steadily increasing, even surpassing Riesling and becoming third most popular grape in the world (I couldn’t find convincing numbers to this claim though). Pinot Gris was growing and producing great wines in Alsace since the 16th century, but it was Italian Pinot Grigio which created this world-wide phenomena in 1970s, propelling the grape from very local consumption in Italian restaurants to such a mass phenomena. I wonder if there is a book about geniuses of marketing who managed to create this Pinot Grigio revolution – this must be a fascinating read. Just to give you an interesting fact – Pinot Gris plantings in New Zealand increased 6.5 times (!) in 5 years from 2003 to 2008 – yeah, talk about popularity.

When it comes to the taste, it is interesting to note that there is a very substantial range of expression in the Pinot Gris wines. A lot of Italian mainstream Pinot Grigio has almost water-like consistency both in the taste and appearance (this is why many people presumably like it, and this is also why this type of wine is never served in my house – sorry for the sidetrack). But even in Italy, when you go further north to the Alto Adige region, the wines will show a lot more substance, with nice acidity and minerality. Then you got Oregon Pinot Gris, which typically have a perfect combination of white stone fruit and acidity, and going all the way back to Alsace, Pinot Gris makes luscious, opulent, full bodied white wines.

Now, let’s get to our quiz, shall we?

Q1: Name Italian Pinot Grigio wine which is considered a golden standard of Pinot Grigio in the United States (people really ask for it by name).

Q2: Name two famous regions in France which used to make wines out of Pinot Gris, but not anymore

Q3: When do you think Pinot Gris was first planted in Oregon?

a. 1947

b. 1966

c. 1978

d. 1990

Q4: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic. True or False: there are more classically rated Pinot Gris wines than Sauvignon Blanc?

Q5: During early 2000s, producers in Alsace had to change the way the Pinot Gris wines were typically labeled (you can still find the old name on the bottles from 1990s and before). Do you know what was changed and why? As an added bonus, please explain the origin of the old name.

Have fun, enjoy your weekend and cheers!

  1. July 27, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Decided to go no Google this week since Pinot Gris (but not Grigio) is kind of in my wheelhouse:
    1. I guess you mean Santa Margherita (sp?), which I find insipid, but that might just be me.
    2. Burgundy, Champagne (although technically still allowed in Champagne, and there are anecdotal producers)
    3. 1966 by David Lett at Eyrie (I learned all about this out at IPNC a few years ago)
    4. True (I have no idea).
    5. It used to be called Tokay d’Alsace (or sometimes simply “Tokay”), but when Hungary joined the European Union, the Alsatians were forced to eventually drop the “Tokay” since it was strikingly close to the Hungarian Tokaji (which was, by many accounts, the reason it was called Tokay in the first place–to benefit from the fame of the Hungarian wine).

    • talkavino
      July 27, 2013 at 11:53 am

      This is what I call “an exemplary work” – great job, Jeff, I was hoping you would partake in the game around one of your favorite grapes. My answers are coming on Wednesday, as usual.

  1. July 31, 2013 at 6:15 pm
  2. August 31, 2013 at 8:38 am
  3. November 30, 2013 at 9:04 am
  4. June 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

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