Every year, on May 17th, the world celebrates Pinot Grigio Day. Few grape varieties are as popular and available in as many styles as Pinot Grigio. Maybe, perhaps, only Sauvignon Blanc can challenge its popularity.

It comes in versions from translucent, light, and refreshing wines to serious, full-bodied expressions, and even some sparkling wines, this white grape variety holds a special place in the hearts of many wine lovers. Its quality and range of styles have only just begun to increase as new expressions find their way onto the shelves of wine stores.

The skins of Pinot Grigio are light red, which allows a diverse range of styles. (Photo: lorenza62/stock.adobe.com)

Despite its surge in popularity and diversity of styles, Pinot Grigio is a variety that has been enjoyed for generations. Contrary to what some may think, Pinot Grigio is not exclusively Italian; it originates from the French variety Pinot Gris, which is derived from the red and thin-skinned Pinot Noir.

In the 1300s, it was brought from Burgundy, France to Switzerland, eventually making its way to Italy, where it found a new home in Veneto and Alto-Adige. Today, this Italian white wine is considered one of the most exported wines in the world.

It has a light red color and can yield exceptionally high quantities, making it popular among grape growers and enabling higher margins in their vineyards. In the 1980s and 1990s, during the quality offensive, some wine drinkers viewed Pinot Grigio with skepticism as the wines tended to be more neutral than fruity, offering limited quality.

However, today, the landscape has changed. While winegrowers still benefit from high yields, modern viticultural practices allow for higher quality dry white wines. Some winemakers are taking Pinot Grigio to the next level by allowing a short skin maceration to extract a blush red color, creating a somewhat rosé wine.

Meet the Pinots

When you open your bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio, don’t forget to tag #NationalPinotGrigioDay to show your friends that you're drinking in style. Here are a few noteworthy selections to consider:

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Produced by singer Mary J. Blige, this hot pick hails from the northeastern Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy. With a short skin contact, it boasts a light pinkish color and gentle tannins, harmoniously balanced with crisp acidity. This style of Italian wine can be viewed as a rosé colored orange wine.

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La Jara Organic Pinot Grigio Brut Rosé: This organic wine is truly unique, offering a delightful blend of light tannins and fizzy joy.

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Zenato is renowned for crafting high-quality, easy-drinking wines as well as high-end selections. Their classic Pinot Grigio is perfect for unwinding after work hours.

Peter Douglas

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