The 3 Pinot Wine Types To Try This Summer

Yes, even red works for a beach day.

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We all know that good things come in threes, and that especially rings true when it comes to the wonderful world of wine. Particularly, Pinot wines. The three most popular Pinot varietals, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Noir seem like they would boast a ton of similarities thanks to having the same forename, but they don’t.

The biggest distinction, obviously, is that Pinot Blanc and Pinot Grigio are white wines, while Pinot Noir is red. Each Pinot wine is an autonomous entity with unique characteristics, flavors, and body, and is optimal for drinking on specific occasions. Samra Morris, the winemaker at Alma Rosa Winery, expounds on this familial analogy. “Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc are two grape varieties that, despite sharing a genetic relationship, are distinctly different,” she says. “They are often referred to as cousins, as Pinot Blanc is a mutation of Pinot Noir.” The same holds true for Pinot Grigio.

Just like you have a favorite dessert or snack, everyone will have a Pinot varietal their palate prefers. Below Morris and other experts will guide us through the prominent Pinot family so everyone can better decide their favorite member. And if you fall in love with all three, good for you.

Pinot Blanc


“Pinot Blanc is a white grape (of the same name) characterized by medium to full body, [and] more moderate acidity,” Morris says. Pinot Blanc grapes are grown abroad in Champagne and Alsace, France; Germany, Italy, and Austria; and in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Leah Adint, the head winemaker Erath Winery declares Pinot Blanc “a hidden gem, pointing out,” out “its delicate yet complex flavor profile,” and urging people to be open-minded when trying this varietal. “Don’t be turned off by a hint of sweetness in these wines,” she says. “Winemakers are very careful about balancing acidity and sweetness to deliver a balanced, enjoyable wine.”

Adint compares Pinot Blanc to resembling something between Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc with a flavor profile that features,” lots of citrus, floral, sometimes melon or tropical fruits if grown in warmer areas.”

When it comes to pairing Pinot Blanc with a meal, Joe Nielsen, general manager and winemaker at Ram’s Gate Winery, notes that the acidity level of each unique Pinot Blanc is what determines its versatility in pairing. If you have a crisp and acidic Pinot Blanc, “[It] is delightful alongside a fresh summer salad, light white fish, or a pasta dish featuring a delicate white sauce, enhancing the meal with its bright and refreshing character,” he says.

Pinot Grigio

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Perhaps the most popular of all the Pinot wines is Pinot Grigio. According to Rita Orrù, a senior winemaker at Ruffino, Pinot Grigio “stands out for its intense and complex aroma, which offers notes of ripe pear fruit, peach and spices, a savory taste and medium acidity.” She adds that another reason this varietal is unique is noticeable on the vine. It has “small leaves and a compact, cylindrical and short bunch.” The eponymous grape berries “are pink and spherical, with a pruinose and thin skin.”

“Historically, the ideal region for its cultivation is Alsace, in France,” she explains. In fact, the same white grape grown in Italy, known as Pinot Grigio, also grows in France but is called Pinot Gris. Savvy wine drinkers may notice the Pinot Gris varietal on wine lists. Despite the grapes being the same, Pinot Gris is a completely different wine that’s more medium-bodied, sweeter and has lower acidity due to the climate and terroir in France.

Over time, Orrù admits that Pinot Grigio has become more widespread in winemaking regions all over the world. She considers the best to be the United States of America, Italy, Germany, Australia, Hungary, and New Zealand.

Orrù produces Pinot Grigio in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto, and Lombardy, because these grapes grow particularly well in these cold climates. But she also notes that “interesting expressions” of Pinot Grigio can be found in central and southern Tuscany.

While Pinot Grigio is always delicious, there are notable differences in the bottles produced in different parts of the globe. “The aroma and taste” are particularly affected depending on the production area, Orrù points out.

“Pinot Grigio, obtained from grapes grown in places with a consistent and cold climate, will have an excellent body and structure, with a velvety and soft flavor and with an aroma of flowers and fruit and a pleasant aftertaste with balsamic hint,” she says. “On the other hand, the wine grown in places characterized by considerable temperature variations will result in a wine with exclusively fruity scents and a remarkable body and flavor.’

She also mentions Pinot Grigio’s versatility. Those who prefer aperitifs are in luck and can savor every sip. If you’re searching for a zesty white wine to serve with a meal and happen to be serving fresh cheeses, vegetable pies, fish dishes, or white meat, grabbing a bottle of Grigio will satisfy your guests from soup to nuts.

Pinot Noir


For those more partial to red wine, this varietal is “known for its light to medium body, high acidity, and flavors of red fruit,” Morris shares.

Because Pinot Noir is on the lighter side of the red wine spectrum, Adint, explains that this varietal’s flavor profile is often “characterized by using both red and white wine descriptors.” Some of those flavors are cherry, mushroom, earthy, floral tones, pepper, and spice.

Pinot Noir grapes are grown almost everywhere Pinot Blanc is grown, with a few exceptions and additions. “Pinot Noir is grown in Champagne and Burgundy, France; Germany; England; Oregon & California, United States; New Zealand; Yarra Valley & Tasmania, Australia.”

Nielsen shares the location and climate Pinot Noir grapes are grown are two of the natural elements that make it so special. “[It] is renowned for its ability to express the nuances of its terroir, resulting in a diverse spectrum of flavors. While it tends to offer a lighter red wine compared to bold varieties like Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, its charm lies in its versatility.”

Adnit agrees and mentions that Pinot Noir is one of the more “challenging” grapes to grow which means an increased cost of production, which is handed off to the consumer. She mentions that a higher price for this varietal is normal “compared to some other grape varieties from the same region.”

If you’re diving into the Pinot Noir pond and plan to serve it with a meal, Nielsen suggests dishes that let its earthy notes shine like mushroom risotto, salmon, or pork loin.

Pinot Wines Rules Of Thumb

For newer Pinot drinkers, when it comes to picking which bottle to purchase, the number of choices can lead to confusion. Adnit’s tip for narrowing down your picks is to look for one piece of information on the label. Location, location, location. “The region of origin will tell a lot about what to expect in both these wines,” she advises. “Pinot Noir from cooler climates will be lighter, higher acidity, and lower alcohol; Pinot Noir from warmer regions will be darker and richer, with more weight and tannin. Pinot Blanc from Alsace is likely to have some level of sweetness, both due to the regional style and to balance the high acidity found there. Pinot Blanc from New World regions will likely be drier and possibly more alcohol.”

If you’re in the mood for Pinot Grigio, Orrù suggests saying ciao to a bottle from Italy. Check the wine labels at the store and opt for one produced in Trentino Alto Adige or Friuli Venezia Giulia region. If you want to explore other countries, “try Pinot Grigio from Alsace, Hungary, or New Zealand — three different wine regions with different viticulture, terroir, and winemaking styles,” she shares.

Finally, Nielsen recommends that consumers know thyself. “Pinot Noir encompasses a broad spectrum of styles and profiles, so having a clear understanding of your preferences and expectations is crucial,” he imparts. “If selecting a bottle to pair with a specific meal, providing general information about the dish can help refine the options among the myriad expressions of Pinot Noir available.”

Whether you’re thirsty for a crisp white or an elegant red, grab a glass and one of these expert-approved bottles to usher in your summer season of sips.