Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 16, 2017
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Pinot Grigio: the other white grape

Pinot Grigio’s meteoric rise to fame is a testament to the fact that wine trends ebb and flow, and that the fickleness of modern consumers extends to their palates. Even so, it does seem slightly amazing that in relatively short order Pinot Grigio has gone from being maligned as a “white bread” sort of simple varietal to the second most popular white grape in North America (after Chardonnay).

Technically, grape-wise Pinot Grigio is synonymous with Pinot Gris. But it is the former term that has caught the attention of stylish sippers. So much so that many wineries have opted to change their labels to “Grigio” — and correspondingly experienced an increase in sales.

In practice, Pinot Gris, the term stalwartly employed in the French region of Alsace, has historically been a signal of a richer, riper, more texturally gripping white. Whereas Pinot Grigio, which finds its traditional bastion in northern Italy, has been aligned with bracing and racy wines, light in both finish and in alcohol content.

Of course, both Gris and Grigio have their place, and it is great to see the grape gaining attention. Pinot Grigio is not likely to earn a coveted spot in a collector’s cellar, but that’s not the point. The grape epitomizes a drink-me-now, easy drinking and food-friendly sensibility that should rightly be embraced. This wine style is more interested in complementing food on the table, rather than being the star at dinner.

And while Pinot Grigio can now be found from Australia to British Columbia, Oregon to Argentina, Italy will remain its classic home. Folonari’s Pinot Grigio captures the spirit of the grape well. Crisp and fresh, showing pear and honeysuckle aromas, this is a straight-ahead white with a concise, mellow finish that (at 12-percent alcohol content) is a light, enjoyable drop. It will pair many a midweek dinner with ease, be it a hearty soup (like the fish soup with orange and fennel on page 60), vegetarian pasta or Chinese takeout.

Kenji and James are BC-based wine writers, educators and winemakers. Their latest book, Had a Glass: Top 100 Wines Under $20 for 2009 (Whitecap Books; $19.95), is available from bookstores and online retailers across Canada.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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