Are Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris the same? Yes they are in fact the same grape. The meaning of the word pinot, a variant of French Pineau, is a diminutive of pine, from the shape of the clusters of grape. In French the word gris means grey and the word grigio in Italian means grey. The grape itself has a greyish/brownish pink skin, hence the term Pinot Gris/Grigio.
The grape originates from the Burgundy area of France and is part of the larger Pinot family. While Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are technically the same grape, they are generally different in style. The Pinot Grigio style tied to Italy, is typically crisp, fresh, lighter body with stone fruit and some floral notes.The Pinot Gris style, like the ones from Alsace area of France, are more full bodied, spicier, richer and more viscous in texture and have a better ageing potential for cellaring. In Alsace, Pinot Gris can be made in a late harvest style where grapes have been affected by botrytis.
These grapes are not just planted in France and Italy, but can be found in many worldly wine regions. Some region like Oregon and New Zealand focus on making the Pinot Gris style. The different styles of Pinot Gris/Grigio may be due in a large part to the difference in soil, temperature, rainfall and even the age of the grape root stock and wine making techniques.
Unfortunately, with its rise in popularity, the Pinot Grigio style has earned a somewhat unfair reputation for being diluted or bland. This is mostly due to bulk producers focusing more on quantity over quality. However, there are many quality Pinot Grigios that do not deserve such criticism.
Check out our 50 Shades of Gris promotion to see some of the finest Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris available from the Finger Lakes, Italy, and the West Coast.