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Grigio vs. Gris

Last week was a short and sweet send-off to angry people, and while I did try to ignore the little things that wrinkle my linens, an ordinary trip to a nearby PA wine shop turned into sour grapes.

I was on my way to a friend’s that sunny afternoon, and I thought a chilly bottle of white would be a great way to enjoy the rest of our day. However, the only offerings of cold white wine were large-format bottles and four different Pinot Grigios. So, my choice was basically to get hammered or drink PG. I know I’ve been down on the Pinot Grigio lately, but I just think wine shops and wine lists aren’t giving their customers enough credit. While I realize a lot of people find one wine they love and stick to it (apparently this wine is Pinot Grigio), a lot of us are still seeking adventures in wine.

As this shop had no chiller, I was forced into the aisles to find something suitable for my current cravings, all the while bummed that my first sip would be delayed. In this situation there’re a couple of options- wine on ice (in the freezer it will take 30 minutes to get cold) or ice in your wine.  I’m often asked if it’s OK to put ice in your wine. I find certain wines to actually be more fun with a clink of the cubes- those big bottles (called magnums, equal two standard sized bottles) of white, for instance.  If you can buy a magnum for under $20, don’t expect complexity. These are more likely quaffable picks that lack personality, so adding ice won’t be watering down the nuances. This day, I went for grey- Pinot Gris that is. Yes, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape, but the style is, in a good Gris, dramatically different. Italian Pinot Grigios are usually clean and light- bodied. The French version, Pinot Gris, most famed from Alsace, is voluptuous and full of ripe fruits. For my Gris, I stayed stateside and found a winner from Cali well worth waiting for the chill.


MacMurray Ranch, Sonoma Coast, Pinot Gris, 2008, $20- This white was whimsical, with peach and honeysuckle aromas and filled my mouth with melon and splashes of citrus. Skip the cubes and let this chill for a lovely lesson in the difference between Grigio and Gris.

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