Revisiting pinot grigio


Pinot grigio is a popular white wine grown primarily in Italy. Light and brightly acidic, pinot grigios are just made to go with food.

Pinot grigio may be found at a wide range of price points. It can be found in party-size jugs or beautifully packaged bottles from fine wineries. In bargain pinots, one can expect straightforward fruit and refreshing acidity, whereas finer ones will have more intense aromas, flavor, and body. If you’ve put off by a bad one in the past, they are well worth revisiting.

In particular, look for offerings from the finer wineries of Alto Adige and other parts of northwest Italy, where some of the best pinot grigios are made.

Pinot grigio pairs well with a broad range of dishes, from marinated antipasti to herb-crusted fish and grilled chicken. It is also fantastic for cooking. Pour a healthy splash into some steamed mussels, then pour yourself a glass to enjoy while they cook.

The first rule of cooking with wine is: don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t happily drink. Inexpensive pinot grigio is perfect for dishes where your ingredients will be poached, steamed or simmered in wine. The bracing acidity and bold flavors can withstand the indignities of high heat and evaporation and there isn’t a hint of sweetness or oakiness, which can intensify in unpredictable and unpleasant ways when subjected to a hot frying pan.

Italian pinot grigio comes in two basic styles, dry and mineral, or dry and fruity. In general, less expensive pinots tend to be on the fruity side, while the fancier ones will exhibit stronger minerality. It is worth noting that there is a third style of wine made from the same grape, called pinot gris, which is fruity and sweet, but these wines are found more often in France, or recently, parts of Oregon and northern California.

Here are a few featured pinot grigio wines for your enjoyment:

• Conti Formentini Pinot Grigio: Full and fresh as well as smooth and round, this 100% pinot grigio has great complexity and refinement.

• Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio: This pinot grigio is creamier than most. The aromas are extremely fine and intense with crisp complexity as evidenced by notes of jasmine and wild flowers.

• San Pietro Pinot Grigio: Simple with good acidity. Excellent value for a pleasant warm weather or aperitif wine.

• Riff Pinot Grigio: Riff offers a lovely balance of fruit and mineral flavors. This has been one of our best bets this summer.

You can find all of these delightful pinot grigio wines for purchase at our store, Old Greenwich Fine Wines, at 195 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, or visit our website When you stop in, we invite you to taste a number of our favorite wines while we help you find the right bottle for your palate.


Robert Zalkin is the owner of Old Greenwich Fine Wines at 195 Sound Beach Avenue. His column will be available weekly at

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