Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

We love Pinot Grigio for its light body, providing an easy-to-drink tangy flavor. But we know how difficult it is to pair it with a dish that matches its taste.

That’s why we’ve compiled a loving selection of dishes you can enjoy with your glass of Pinot Grigio. 

Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

Not only do we discuss the perfect matches with your glass, but we’ll also look at pairings that you should avoid. By the end of this post, you’ll know everything there is to know about how to carefully curate your dishes to enjoy your Pinot Grigio the most.

In this post, we’ll be taking a closer look at the best dishes to pair your Pinot Grigio with and how the type of Pinot Grigio can affect it.

Depending on where your Pinot Grigio comes from, it may actually be known as Pinot Gris. That’s why we’ll discuss the different types available and how the flavors will change.

If you would like to know more, please keep reading. However, if you’re looking for something in particular, feel free to jump to the relevant section. 

Pairing Pinot Grigio With Food

When pairing Pinot Grigio with food, you need to think about the characteristics of your wine. Pinot Grigio is a dry white wine that is both crisp and refreshing.

However, you should also consider where your Pinot Grigio is grown and whether you’re having a glass of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris.

You should follow a few rules when pairing any wine with a meal. The most important thing is to balance the flavors.

You shouldn’t worry about the type of wine you’re drinking, and if you don’t enjoy Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris, it’s not the end of the world. However, if you’re reading this, we would assume that you will enjoy these pairings.

When you’re thinking about your meal, you shouldn’t only consider meat or vegetables. Remember that sauce is also essential to your flavor. If your sauce or meal is acidic, then you shouldn’t drink it with another acidic drink. 

We would also recommend you have wine that is sweeter than your food. If your food is spicy, then it works well with a sweet wine. However, remember that your spicy food will become even more inflamed if you have a high-tannin wine.

Truthfully, it’s best to think of your wine as if it is a condiment. Each wine brings a different flavor to complement your dish.

You wouldn’t pick the wrong condiment for your meal, so you shouldn’t do the same with your wine. One of our favorite rules of thumb is that if your wine grows in a specific region where you would find your dish, then it will match perfectly. 

Pinot Grigio’s Characteristics

Pinot Grigio is cultivated in Northern Italy, where it has a tart, limey flavor with notes of lemon and green apple. As a rule, Pinot Grigio is known for being a dry white wine that is both crisp and refreshing. 

You will note that it has different tastes depending on where you get your Pinot Grigio. Californian Pinot Grigio has more tropical characteristics. Many types of Pinot Grigio might also have other notes, including almond, honeysuckle, and melon. 

Due to the medium-high acidity levels, Pinot Grigio has a refreshing and bright flavor and is often quite dry.

However, Pinot Gris differs due to having a full and creamy texture when compared to Pinot Grigio, which we’ll go into more depth later.

The Flavors, Aromas, And Taste Of Pinot Grigio

When pairing your Pinot Grigio with your food, you should toy with the flavors and aromas within your glass.

The Italian version is more citrussy, while American Pinot Grigio has a tropical twist. It all depends on the type of grapes used when making the wine.

If your grape isn’t ripe, then your Pinot Grigio will have a stronger citrus flavor, while ripe grapes will have tropical, tree-fruity flavors.

Of course, we know that you can’t be there when the wine becomes grapes, but you can find out by looking at the alcohol content of your wine.

Remember, lower alcohol content means your grapes aren’t that ripe, while higher alcohol content will mean they’re more ripe.

The good news is that even if its alcohol content is high, it won’t go too high. On average, Pinot Grigio has an alcohol content level of 11% and 14%.

It’s easy to remember the characteristics, but you should also think about the flavor. Pinot Grigio isn’t known for its complexity, so you’ll notice more flavors of apple and lemon. Overall, it’s a great wine to pair with simple foods that have a delicate flavor. 


The Difference Between Pinot Grigio And Pinot Gris

Before we delve into the dishes you should pair with your Pinot Grigio, we’re going to help you understand what makes Pinot Grigio different from Pinot Gris.

Despite both wines coming from the same variety of grape, we should remind you that Pinot Grigio is a mutation of Pinot Noir.

As a member of the Pinot family, you can also find Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier. However, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris both have their names derived from the word gray.

Both are named after the blue-ish purple berries that appear to have a gray color. The only difference between them is grigio is Italian, and gris is French.

We find that Pinot Grigio winemakers outside of Italy will label their drink as such to show that it is a crisp, light wine. However, if you find Pinot Gris, the winemaker is suggesting that their drink is more complex and has a fuller body. 

Where Is It Grown?

To further understand the difference between the two wines, look at where the wine is grown.

Pinot Grigio is from the northeastern Italian regions, specifically Trentino, Friuli, and Alto Adige. But you can also find Pinot Grigio grown in other countries such as Austria and Slovenia.

Outside of Europe, you’ll find that Pinot Grigio is grown in California and Oregon; however, Oregon prefers to call it Pinot Gris.

However, Californian Pinot Grigio is considered pretty cheap in comparison to others. You’ll also find Pinot Gris in France, New Zealand, and Australia, where several different expressions are available.

We’ll now take a closer look at how the different origins of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris can affect the flavors and pairings of your drink. 

Italian Pinot Grigio

Despite being known as the white wine of Italy, it’s not particularly common there. You are more likely to find it in the country’s northeastern regions.

However, you can still find it in other regions. Still, you may notice that the taste will depend on the different sub-region.

Known for its light, tart, tangy taste, this is a feature that is common among all Italian Pinot Grigios. While the traditional form is delicate and refreshing, it has a dominant green apple, lemon, and lime flavor. 

You should aim for light and delicate foods when pairing Italian Pinot Grigio with any meal. 

California Pinot Grigio

In California, most Pinot Grigio is grown in the Central Valley, and it’s home to two of the biggest wine companies in the U.S.

While it may not be the best, it’s easy to find and is known for how available it is to everyone around. Due to the California climate, we recommend a glass when the weather is hot, with a combination of salads and vegetables.

We’ve noticed that the better flavors of Pinot Grigio in the U.S. are found when you look for Pinot Gris.

Most of these will be found in Los Carneros, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and the Russian River Valley. With these glasses, we would recommend enjoying heavy fish dishes or pairing them with risotto or roast chicken.

However, the best Pinot Gris comes from Oregon, where it is both versatile and affordable. The flavor is filled with different expressions of grape and may also be aged in barrels. Due to the creamier texture, they pair well with cream sauces or heavy meats. 

French Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris has a different flavor than its Italian counterpart, so you should aim to understand the flavors. It is grown in Alsace in the northeastern regions of France lying on the German border.

Here they have more elevated vineyards where the vineyards have more access to sunlight. Despite being milder, the grapes are often riper and have a larger concentration of them.

Unlike Pinot Grigio, French Pinot Gris has a greater body of alcohol content and is known for having less acid. It has dominant flavors of yellow apples, peaches, and pears. Still, you may also enjoy the light undertones of honey, ginger, and spice. 

As a rule, French Pinot Gris is better suited to more complex dishes. Alsace is an area renowned for its late-harvest style of dessert wines, making them suitable for fruit tarts. 

Australian And New Zealand Pinot Gris

In the southern hemisphere, we’ve found some delicious versions of Pinot Grigio under the Pinot Gris label. In both Victoria and Tasmania, you’ll find some great Pinot Grigio and more in New Zealand when you visit Central Otago and Marlborough.

We find that the New Zealand Pinot Gris is one that pairs deliciously with fish, especially salmon carpaccio. 

Food Pairings You Should Try

We’ve already discussed how you can pair Pinot Grigio with your dish, but let’s go into a little bit more depth.

Food and wine pairings aren’t rocket science, but you do need to consider a few factors: the acid, weight, and overall combination of flavors.

Everything about food pairings must be balanced, so you should pair Pinot Grigio with a portion of lighter food. While oaked Pinot Gris can handle creamy sauces with complex flavors, it still shouldn’t be combined with heavy dishes.

If you want to match Pinot Grigio with anything, I would suggest pairing it with fresh flavors.

There are many fruity notes in Pinot Grigio, so consider drinking it while having light rice or pasta dishes with herbs. Salads, chicken, turkey, and seafood are all excellent options for any Pinot Grigio pairing.

Should you have any white wine or lemon sauce in your dish, you’ll find that Pinot Grigio will enhance the flavor in a way that will be impossible not to enjoy. 


Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

If you’re enjoying a bottle of wine, you don’t have to feel like you only need red wine and cheese. White wines can offer a delightful pairing of flavors when you have mild cheese. Still, sweet Pinot Grigio is better with gorgonzola and feta cheeses. 

Here is a list of cheeses you can enjoy with Pinot Grigio: 

  • Brie
  • Feta
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Gorgonzola
  • Gouda
  • Mild Cheddar
  • Mild Goat Cheese

Remember that it’s best not to try stronger cheeses with your Pinot Grigio. If you want stronger cheeses, we recommend choosing a different wine instead. 


Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

Light pasta dishes are perfect for pairing with Pinot Grigio, especially when your pasta is combined with fish or vegetables. You should avoid heavier pasta dishes when you have Pinot Grigio. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Lasagna con Semi di Papavero
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Pasta Primavera
  • Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

It doesn’t matter what type of pasta you enjoy, as long as it has a light sauce. Feel free to experiment with the different types until you find one that pairs well with your drink. 


Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

Certainly, chicken is one of the most famous poultry pairings with Pinot Grigio. A close second is a turkey, as both of these meats are lighter and aren’t overpowered by Pinot Grigio’s light body.

We recommend marinating your chicken in lemon or white wine first. In fact, you may be interested in knowing that Pinot Grigio is also an affordable cooking wine.

If you’re having a chicken and turkey salad sandwich for lunch, don’t hesitate to crack open a bottle of Pinot Grigio and enjoy a glass.

Try to avoid having heavier poultry with Pinot Grigio as you may find that it will clash with the flavor. 


Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

Pinot Grigio has a higher acidity level, making it a perfect companion to any seafood dish. You can enjoy any fish with a light body, especially with squeezed lemon juice.

Whether you enjoy shellfish, fresh fish, or any more, you’ll find a delicious variety of seafood to enjoy (You might also want to check out Cioppino Wine Pairing). 

We recommend combining Pinot Grigio with the following: 

  • Baked Cod
  • Clams
  • Crab Cakes
  • Grilled Octopus
  • Oysters
  • Shrimp Scampi
  • Sushi

Suppose you’re having a glass of Pinot Gris. However, we recommend trying ceviche or smoked salmon, especially if you have the Oregon variety. 


Everything You Should Know About Pinot Grigio Food Pairings

Pinot Grigio is known to combine well with fresh vegetables, often complementing crunchy vegetables. If you’re on a vegetarian diet or are looking for a healthy meal, then you’ll find that Pinot Grigio will enhance the flavors of your dish.

For vegetables, we recommend: 

  • Crunchy Vegetables with Dip
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Stir-Fried Vegetables and Rice
  • Tempura Vegetables
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Zucchini

There are many types of vegetables that you can combine with Pinot Grigio due to its almost herbal flavor. Don’t be afraid of trying different vegetables, especially when it’s a hot summer day. 

Food Pairings You Should Avoid

While the above dishes are perfect with Pinot Grigio, there are some dishes that you should avoid.

For example, any dish with red meat or heavy sauces should be avoided. Likewise, unless you’re drinking a sweet version of Pinot Grigio, you should not have your wine with dessert.

Here is our list of foods you should avoid pairing with Pinot Grigio: 

  • Dessert
  • Goat
  • Lamb
  • Meat Sauces
  • Spicy Foods
  • Steak
  • Stew

As long as your dish is light and fresh, you should have no issues with pairing it with your glass of Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Grigio Serving Suggestions

When you have Pinot Grigio, we recommend you serve it cold. Cold Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris will have an enhanced flavor when at a cooler temperature.

For example, suppose you have the Italian Pinot Grigio. In that case, you should serve it cold and maintain a low temperature by keeping it in an ice bucket.

When you serve Pinot Gris, you should do so when ten or fifteen minutes have passed since you took it out of the fridge. We would not recommend you serve it immediately. 

Final Thoughts

Pinot Grigio is a delicious wine that is dry and light-bodied. It doesn’t have a high alcohol level and offers a crisp, refreshing taste. With that in mind, we find that Pinot Grigio is best served with lighter dishes and isn’t suitable for heavier dishes. 

We recommend pairing your Pinot Grigio with seafood or anything that you can sprinkle lemon juice on. Due to the citrusy flavor of Pinot Grigio, the two flavors mesh well. They are perfect to enjoy with one another. 

If you have any questions about wine and how to enjoy it, please don’t hesitate to read some of our other posts. Everyone should be able to enjoy wine as they wish, and you may find your favorite pairing with our help. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Pinot Grigio Considered Sweet Or Dry?

Compared to other white wines, Pinot Grigio is less sweet due to its acidity, which is what makes it less sweet. Instead, Pinot Grigio is either dry or semi-sweet, depending on how it is made.

Is Pinot Grigio Considered A Good Wine?

Pinot Grigio is the second most popular white wine sold in the U.S., offering a balance of dry and off-dry. Due to its refreshing flavor, it’s become a popular choice for wine drinkers around the country.

Is Pinot Grigio Good For Beginners?

If you’re new to drinking wine, we recommend trying Pinot Grigio. It’s a dry white wine from Italy that won’t overpower your senses.

Sarah Perez
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