Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio: What Is the Difference?

If you enjoy having a glass of tasty white wine, you should try a glass of Pinot, if you haven’t already. To most white wine lovers, Pinot is a favorite. The distinction between a Pinot Grigio and a Pinot Gris is rather subtle, yet many people know that these wines are essentially the same. The two are crafted from the same grape variety and have no DNA or genetic disparity whatsoever.

Although very similar, the two have several key differences, especially taste. Pinot Grigio is a lighter, fresher wine, while Pinot Gris has a spicier taste and is more full-bodied. But what makes Pinot Grigio different from Pinot Gris? Is taste the only basis for their differences? Why do the wines taste differently despite being produced from the same grape? If you are here, you might be grappling with either of the questions above or want to learn more about Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris.

Let’s look at the key distinctions between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris, as well as what distinguishes each of them. What foods can be paired with either, and why? Read on to learn all about Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio and their differences.

What Makes Pinot Grigio Different from Pinot Gris?

As stated above, both wines are produced from the same grape despite their differences. So, where then does the difference arise? The grapes’ cultivation and harvesting time are among the two main factors that occasion the difference. The grapes used to produce Pinot Grigio are cultivated in mountainous areas, making the grapes retain higher acidity. Pinot Grigio’s grapes are harvested early, making the wine drier and crispier than Pinot Gris.

These factors that make Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio different are the same factors determining what foods the wines should be paired with. Let us now review the main differences between the two white wines.

Difference Between Pinot Gris And Pinot Grigio

Where They Come From

The grapes used to produce Pinot Gris are mainly cultivated around the Alsace region in France.

Because the wine is made using riper grapes, Pinot Gris leans towards a rich, full-bodied texture. Its mouthfeel may be vicious or oily because of the occasional use of barrel fermentation and extra sweetness. The grapes used in the production of Pinot Gris are light purple or greyish blue. Regardless of the color, the grape is officially labeled white. “Gris” is French for Grey, hence the name Pinot Gris.

On the other hand, Pinot Grigio is made in Lombardy, the heartland of Northern Italy. However, it is worth noting that this is the same grape as that grown in Alsace, France. The areas where the grapes are grown are steep and mountainous. This ensures the grapes maintain high acidity levels, giving Pinot Grigio a unique taste. Unlike the French grown grapes, Italian grown grapes are harvested earlier. The early harvesting provides the Pinot with Grigio a drier, crispier, lighter-bodied, with uncomplicated, lean flavor.

Are The Two Wines Just From France And Italy?

Today, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris grapes are grown in many parts of the world, almost every wine-growing region. Countries like Chile, Switzerland, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, and Austria make the more fashionable Pinot Grigio that is typically destined to be consumed early and easy drinking. Grigio grapes are grown in Idaho, Michigan, and California in the US. However, some regions like South Australia, Oregon, Tasmania, and Marlborough produce Pinot Gris.


Although the two wines are produced from typical grapes, they have different tastes. The common expression around Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio is “same grapes different tastes”. However, the world of wines is so wonderful that it could surprise you to learn the same grape might be cultivated to result in two highly different tastes.

Pinot Grigio

Primarily, Pinot Grigio possesses a fruity flavor. The primary fruit flavors contained in a Pinot Grigio are apple, lime, lemon, white nectarine, and pear. Some Pinot Grigio can have floral aromas such as honeysuckle, saline-like minerality, and faint honeyed notes based on the grape-growing region. Pinot Grigio does not have a sharp or unique flavor, unlike the other white wines like Moscato and Riesling. There is a weighty feeling and a refreshing spark of acidity at the middle of your tongue, similar to licking a wax paper that gives the wine a great flavor. American Pinot Grigio has more exaggerated fruit flavors and less acidity than its European counterparts. Because of its high acidity, Pinot Grigio is dry and less sweet than Chardonnay. However, cheap supermarket Pinot Grigio made for mid-week drinkers of wine is sweet.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is produced with 100% Pinot Gris Grapes cultivated in France, making it taste complex and very different from Pinot Grigio. The wines usually come in multiple slightly different flavors and styles. Pinot Gris’s famous taste comprises an array of spicy cloves, lemon, ginger, cinnamon, lime, white Peach, White Nectarine, green apple, berries fruits, citrus, and Meyer lemon. Other notable aromas include minerals, herbs, flowers, honey, saline, honeysuckle, and almond.

The taste of Pinot Gris is not only exquisite, but it also leaves you with a tingly spicy taste. Watch out for late harvests if you prefer a glass of sweeter Pinot Gris. Although pinot Gris can be compared to other famous dry white wines, it lies close to the dryness of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc’s fragrant full body though usually lighter.

Typically Pinot Gris has a medium to full body, with the notes above tropical fruits and spices to create a unique and fresh taste. Pinot Gris is medium dry and sweeter because Gris has less acidity than Pinot Grigio. Pinot Gris is also more viscous compared to its Italian counterpart.

Food Pairings

As any wine lover would tell you, various wines pair best with certain foods. Pairing your dish with the right wine will enhance its flavor and increase the dining experience. Selecting the best wine pairing for your meal is vital to any dining event’s success.

Pinot Grigio

Because Pinot Grigio has a simpler crisper flavor and lower alcohol contents, the wine is perfect for light meals. Pinot Grigio should be paired with meals that don’t have complex flavors as a general rule of thumb. Because of Pinot Grigio’s somewhat saline quality, the wine adds a burst of flavor to some dishes. Examples of foods to pair with a glass of Pinot Grigio include cold meats, Hummus, French Fries, Cheese, and macaroni. Others include meaty and vegetarian salads, seafood like cooked fish dishes and sushi, and fruit plates.

Pinot Gris

Unlike Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris can be best with foods having a heavier base. While Pinot Grigio is considered a light or lunch wine, Pinot Gris is a good dinner wine. Pinot Gris provides the spicy flavors of heavier foods like saffron, cinnamon, and turmeric. Some of the best foods to pair with Pinot Gris include curry dishes, roast meat dishes, vegetarian dishes, spicy Mexican or Asian dishes, stews, and meaty soups.

Which Wine is Right for Me?

Now that you know the key differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines, it can be a little bit daunting to decide which one is right for you. Here are some tips to help you choose:

If you want a light and refreshing wine, go with Pinot Grigio. It’s also perfect for drinking on warm days outside!

If you like white wines with a creamier texture, Pinot Gris is your best bet. This wine pairs well with seafood dishes or salads for lunch or dinner.

If you want to impress someone with an impressive bottle of wine, go with a Pinot Gris. It is often seen as a more elegant wine than Pinot Grigio.

If you are on a budget, Pinot Grigio is the better option. It tends to be cheaper than Pinot Gris wines.

Buying tips for Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio Wines

Now that you know the critical differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio wines, it’s time to start buying them! Here are a few tips to help you out:

When shopping for Pinot Grigio wines, look for bottles that say “Italian white wine.” This will ensure that you get a true Pinot Grigio and not an imitation. Also, make sure there is no “Pinot Gris” listed on the label!

When shopping for Pinot Gris wines, it can be difficult to distinguish between them because they look similar in color. Look for bottles with a light pinkish color and a “Pinot Gris” listed on the label.

When buying Pinot Gris wines from the store, always buy a bottle that has been aged for at least one year. This will ensure that it tastes as good as possible when you open it and drink it!


If you are a white wine lover, you probably have tasted Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio and realized they have a somewhat different taste. Their differences stem from the grape’s harvesting time and how they are cultivated. The differences between these wines can be viewed from their production, acidity levels, and alcohol content that affects the taste or the foods they can be paired with. Although Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are grown in the modern wine-producing regions, France and Italy remain the largest producers.

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