WINE CHOICE

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK - AOIFE CAR­RIGY’S

Pinot Gri­gio is of­ten dis­missed as the el­e­va­tor mu­sic of wines: mass-pro­duced with min­i­mal char­ac­ter, en­sur­ing broad, catch-all ap­peal, but with­out the ca­pac­ity to re­ally charm. Its pop­u­lar­ity may baf­fle many wine lovers, but Pinot Gri­gio sells by the shed­load. Its lack of defin­ing char­ac­ter might be part of its ap­peal.

Crisp, dry and lightly fruity, it is nei­ther as tangy as Sauvi­gnon Blanc nor as fleshy as Chardon­nay. It is, for pro­duc­ers and drinkers alike, a safe bet. If safety is a de­cid­ing fac­tor in your wine-buy­ing choices, there’s plenty to choose from. And be­cause the high yields that al­low for low prices also re­sult in min­i­mal flavour, your safe bet of­ten comes cheap. If, how­ever, you pre­fer a lit­tle flavour with your al­co­hol, there are some more in­ter­est­ing Pinot Gri­gio styles out there.

‘Pinot Gri­gio’ usu­ally refers to the Ital­ian take on the grape that also goes un­der the label of ‘Pinot Gris’. The lat­ter signals the ap­proach of the French re­gion of Al­sace, where lower yields and riper grapes give a richer, more full-bod­ied, aro­matic and flavour­some wine with less em­pha­sis on crisp acid­ity.

In be­tween th­ese two ap­proaches sit other styles such as those found in Cal­i­for­nia and Ar­gentina, which lean to­wards the fuller ‘Gris’ take but of­ten choose to opt for the sure-sell ‘Gri­gio’ label. But that is not to dis­miss all Ital­ian Pinot Gri­gio out­right. There are no­table ex­cep­tions from re­gions such as Fri­uli and Alto Adige, in which bet­ter qual­ity of­fers greater char­ac­ter and in­ten­sity.

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