Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are of the same grape variety but, the primary difference is the region they’re grown in. The five main differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are origin, major wine regions, wine styles tasting notes, and food pairings. Let’s look into these differences a bit more closely.

I will note one thing: As winemakers, we are given the choice of what we would like to call our wines. In the case of our Pinot Gris, we chose "Gris" rather than "Grigio" because that is what my mom, Ellena, wanted. Even though our Pinot Gris is made in the the Pinot Grigio style, my mom liked the sound of Pinot Gris better. So all of this information is factual and true, but not a hard and fast rule. You can usually tell the style of it by the color. Pinot Gris-style wines are typically darker and more yellow in color, whereas Pinot Grigio-style wines are very light yellow, almost clear.

#1 Origin

Pinot Gris originates in France and is believed to be a mutation of Pinot Noir. It’s mainly grown in the Alsace region of France. In the 1300s, when it reached Italy, the variety was called Pinot Grigio and is primarily grown in Alto Adige of northwestern Italy. In short, Pinot Gris has a French origin while Pinot Grigio has an Italian origin.

#2 Major Regions

Alasce is known to produce late harvest Pinot Gris styles like Vendages Tardives (VT) and a rare Sélection de Grains Noble (SGN). The Pinot Gris grape is also used in Champagne blends as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Other regions like Oregon, Washington, and New Zealand produce more complex Pinot Gris styles.

Pinot Grigio is widely produced in the Alto Adige wine region in Italy. Italian Pinot Grigio wine styles are also produced in places like California, Australia, Germany, and Austria.

#3 Styles

In general, I’ll outline the wine styles of Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. First, Pinot Gris wines are rich, full-bodied, and accompanied by higher alcohol content. Made with fully ripe grapes and occasionally barrel fermentation, Pinot Gris often have extra sweetness and a creamy feel.

Second, the Italian Pinot Grigio is harvested early which results in a light-bodied, crisper, and low alcohol content wine. The aromas are primarily of fresh fruit and florals.

The American Pinot Grigio has an exaggerated fruity flavor and much less acidity than European versions. Most often, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are meant to be consumed young. However, dryer versions of Pinot Gris can age for 10 years or more.

#4 Tasting Notes

Pinot Gris embodies unique, complex flavors like cinnamon, and lemon, with a tingly aftertaste. Late harvest French-style Pinot Gris is a treat for those who desire a sweet wine, thanks to the honey undertone resulting from the noble rot.

Pinot Grigio is often characterized by the fruity flavors of pear, apple, lime, and lemon, with a refreshing spark of acidity. Some Italian-style Grigio wines also have a floral aroma of honeysuckle.

#5 Food Pairings

The rich Pinot Gris style pairs well with roast pork, creamy pasta, and dense cheeses. The lighter Pinot Grigio is a fabulous apéritif but, I’d also recommend serving it with grilled shrimp, salads, or fruit platters.