Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Noir

Last Updated on August 1st, 2023

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Pinot is a word that comes from how the grape clusters with a visual similarity to the structure of pinecones. 

They originate from the river valleys between Eastern France and Southern Germany, which have been said to have begun growing and been cultivated for wine as early as the fourteenth century. 

Both Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir will be some of the best-known varieties of Pinot grape wines but will differ in the red and white vintages they traditionally come in. 

Pinot Gris (Grigio) is amongst the oldest and most popular vintages. Linkages have roots in the Veneto region of Italy (thus the Grigio). 


What are the Similarities?

The first set of similarities is obvious in that they are in the same family of Pinot Grapes, no matter the difference in wines. These both are going to be rooted in the Rhine River valley that lines the borders of France and Germany. 

In addition, each is related to the Pinot Grigio grape vines that traveled over the Swiss Alps and found their way into the valleys below. 

Both of these wine vintages will be drier in taste, with medium body and low to no tannins, and carry a medium to high acidity. Another similarity will be the range of alcohol content, eleven-point-five to thirteen-point-five percent ABV. 


What are the Differences?

The most blaring difference will be in the coloring and type of wines these two are, meaning that Pinot Gris (Grigio) will be a white wine grape while Pinot Noir evolved to be a perfect red wine grape. 

As a result, the primary flavors for Pinot Gris will be that of a mineral, raw almond, fruity, citrusy, and white peach flavor palette; Pinot Noir has more of an earthy, raspberry, cherry set of flavors with a note of clove and hibiscus. 

White wines are normally going to be associated with vintages that are tannin free, whereas Rosés will have low tannins, while Pinot Noir as a red will be closer to having these Rosés than, say, a cabernet sauvignon.


Pros and Cons: Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Noir

One of the best parts about Pinot Gris is its food pairing perfection with white meats and seafood. 

The citrus-zesty nature works best with fruits like lemons, oranges, and peaches. So con will be if this is your only choice when having a steak or red meat-centered dish, where a red wine would be better served. 

The nice pro about the Pinot Noir grape is that it can be made into Red, Rosés, white wines, and sparkling varieties of vintages. The con will be the sensitive nature of the grape, which will need to grow in protected valleys, or along the banks of larger bodies of water. 


Which Wine is More Versatile?

To start our three-category comparison with how the vintages are made, which both come from similar regions, but where Pinot Gris is limited to white wine varieties.

Pinot Noir will have the ability to be made into all four variations of wine. Then you get to drinkability. The Pinot Gris white wines will be best with white and seafood dishes, while Pinot Noir will have the versatility to pair with just about any dish you can think of. 

Then you have to think about the cooking benefits that come with using these wines. Though you can cook with Pinot Gris, there are going to be other go-to varieties of white wine that chefs will use. 

Pinot Noir has the belt due to the fact that having four varieties of vintages can hardly be defeated. Congrats. 


Which One has More Tannins?

As mentioned earlier in the article, there will be hardly any to no tannins in white wines, which will be the case for Pinot Gris. However, the red wine vintage of Pinot Noir will be the variety that will carry the highest content of tannins out of these two Pinot grape wines. 

That being said, there are going to be some versions of Pinot Noir that will be just as low in tannin content as the standard versions of Pinot Gris. A quick read of the label will help divulge the content levels of each bottle if the need arises. 


Final Thoughts on Pinot Gris vs Pinot Noir

When you find yourself looking for a perfect pairing for freshly caught seafood, you cannot go wrong with a good Pinot Gris white wine bottle. 

Though Pinot Noir comes in multiple varieties, the red wine is arguably the best vintage and pairs well with a good steak or red meat. 

That being said, any meat replacement interested parties will need to flavor match much the same way as meat wine pairings. For example, I have been told that mushroom burgers naturally complement the earthier flavored vintages.