The Herald Bulletin

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July 13, 2013

Howard Hewitt: Time to take wine outdoors

There are so many great summer options for patio or porch wine it’s foolish to concentrate on just one. Pinot Gris deserves strong consideration after several mentions of dry Rosé.

The white wine market is flooded with Pinot Grigio so what’s the difference in Pinot Gris? That’s a trick question because both wines are made from the same grape. It’s really a matter of style.

Pinot Grigio, which is often flabby and uninteresting, is usually light-bodied with stone fruit and floral hints on the nose. Italians tend to make the best Pinot Grigio but even under the Italian flag the quality wavers. It is Italy’s most popular white wine.

Pinot Gris usually has a richer body, nicer texture, and wonderful acidity. The grape which makes both wines originates from the Burgundian Pinot family. Pinot Gris is widely grown in France’s Alsace region and is also the dominant white grape in Oregon.

The white Pinot has a strong resemblance to the Pinot Noir grape genetically. The similarity comes when tasting several different wines. The white Pinot grape can make crappy to great wine depending on the style, growing season, and terroir.

Despite Italy, France, and Oregon’s dominance in the market, the grape is grown worldwide. For example in Germany it’s known as Grauklevner, Greece – Monemvasia, Croatia – Sivi Pinot, and so on. Even in France, outside Alsace, the grape has five different names.

Enough history, what will wine drinkers find in the glass? The wines tend to have aromas and the taste of pear, melon, apple, lemon and minerality. Shell fish, Quiche, and lighter foods pair well with the less acidic versions while a really crisp Pinot Gris works with chicken, seafood, or any white meat. Don’t overlook Pinot Gris with a pork chop!

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