Pinot Gris food pairing

Published November 6th, 2022

Originally from Burgundy, Pinot Gris, like Pinot Blanc, is a bud mutation of Pinot Noir that has spread throughout the world and produces a wide variety of wines in quite different styles that range from light, crisp aperitifs to rich, lush Chardonnay-like wines to luscious, honeyed dessert wines, with every step in between.

Pinot Gris food pairing.

In Alsace, probably its favorite spot in the world, it used to be identified with the appellative Tokay-Pinot Gris, a name that disappeared due to the claim of the Tokaji appellation by Hungary. It was probably imported into Italy in the 19th century by General Sambuy from Burgundy. From his vineyards in the province of Como, it spread slowly in Northern Italy where it is known as Pinot Grigio.

In our article on Pinot Grigio food pairing, we have already explained how Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape (Grigio and Gris are simply the translation of Grey, respectively in Italian and French), and how the 2 different names are used to indicate 2 different wine styles.

Today we will talk about Pinot Gris characteristics when made in a French style, and more precisely Alsatian, where this grape produces exceptional wines of excellent quality both dry, semi-dry, or sweet. We will tell you everything you need to know about these wines and how to create the ideal Pinot Gris food pairing.

Pinot Gris food pairing: the basics

Renowned for being very aromatic, Pinot Gris shows an elegant and broad bouquet with fruity aromas such as apricot, peach, citrus, and ginger, floral notes such as jasmine, but also hazelnuts, acacia, honey, beeswax, cinnamon, marzipan, mint, mineral and smoky hints. With some time in the bottle, tertiary aromas become more relevant and the olfactory profile becomes more ethereal, with dried fruit, gingerbread, and caramelized notes, especially if it is a sweet wine.

On the palate, Pinot Gris can be a rich and pungent wine, but with a certain warmth. The structure is vigorous, and there is always a lively tension between acidity and flavor. Its complexity, volume, and aromatic intensity, which distinguish it from the lighter Pinot Gris, make food pairing Pinot Gris perfect with substantial and fatty fish dishes such as fish soup, white meats, salami, and carbonara. veal with tuna sauce, chicken curry, pork tenderloin, and Pad Thai.

Off-dry Pinot Gris pairs well with all spicy food but also with young or medium-aged cheeses and light desserts.

Sweet wines such as the Alsatian Vendage Tardive or Selection de Grains Nobles are extremely powerful wines with luscious sweetness, concentrated aromas and warming alcohol content. Sweet Pinot Gris food pairing suggestions include all nutty and spicy desserts and baked fruit pies.

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Difference between Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris

As mentioned, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are two different wine styles made from the same grape variety. To be more precise Grigio and Gris are respectively the Italian and French words for Gray. So the grape variety is the same but the two different definitions with which the wines are labeled are commonly used as a proper style statement. Interestingly, within the United States, the same wine is known as Pinot Gris in Oregon, while it is called Pinot Grigio in California.

A wine labeled as Pinot Grigio will normally correspond to a light, crisp, and fresh wine. Of course, there are various declinations to this style, and some Pinot Grigio from the New World will be richer and more fruit-driven than the classic Italian ones, and you may even find some sweet examples from California.

Nonetheless, a Pinot Grigio is generally a delicate white wine with citrusy and fresh fruit aromas and lively acidity. So food pairing for Pinot Grigio will have to be evaluated based on these characteristics.

On the other hand, Pinot Gris is not only richer and more complex than Pinot Grigio, but wine lovers consider it sweeter. Pinot Gris wines are made in dry, off-dry, and sweet styles which allows a completely different set of food pairings.

Check out our Pinot Grigio post if you want to find out more about Pinot Gris twin brother!

Is Pinot Gris sweet?

Yes, but only if vinified in a sweet style. For Alsatian wines, that means that the wine will report the wording ‘Vendages Tardives’ or 'Selection de Grains Nobles’ on the label.

The Vendanges Tardives (that is late harvests) are delicious, sweet wines, made from grapes that have undergone a drying on the plant and on which noble rot has developed. The superior category Selection de Grains Nobles includes precious and opulent sweet wines, produced with bunches harvested almost grape by grape, according to a very strict and almost ruthless selection process.

Pinot Gris wine regions

The most prestigious area for the production of Pinot Gris wines is without a shadow of a doubt the region of Alsace in France. But Pinot Gris style wines are also made all over the world and predominantly in New Zealand and Australia as well as in the USA, where this specific style is especially popular in the Oregon and California states.


Alsace is the land of choice for Pinot Gris. Here, this grape produces excellent dry, semi-dry, or sweet white wines (Vendanges Tardives or Sélection Grains Nobles) and more rarely rosé wines, all capable of aging and evolving very well.

The climate and terroir of the Alsace region, ideal for this grape variety, allow for the production of generous and ample wines, characterized by intense aromatic notes of ripe fruit and notes of undergrowth.

United States

Pinot Gris is extremely popular in the US. And what’s not to like? This is an affordable and delicious wine that can please even the most demanding wine palates!

It is also widely grown thought the country, especially in California, Oregon, and Washington state. While California produces both Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris wine styles, in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris is often medium-bodied and resembles Alsace wines in style with honeyed, spicy fruit but more gentle acidity.

Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, where it was introduced in the mid-1800s, it is labeled both as Pinot Gris and as Pinot Grigio based on the degree of sweetness of the wines, choosing the second term for those that are drier and with greater acidity. Some very fine wines are produced especially in the cooler climate of the island of Tasmania.

And although it's a newcomer to Pinot Gris, the South Island of New Zealand produces delicious examples that combine the luscious fruit of Alsace Pinot Gris with the tangy acidity of Northern Italy Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Gris oysters pairing.


Wine pairing with seafood always needs to take into account the texture of the flesh, and the strong, iodized and salty taste, which requires a fairly mineral and medium-bodied wine. The sauce that can accompany the recipe will also have a role to play in the combinations.

If a dry Pinot Gris from Germany or the New World goes very well with oysters and white fish served with lemon sauce, Alsace Pinot Gris food pairing is perfect with clams and mussels dishes even in spicy preparations.

Our suggestion: Pinot Gris, Philip Lardot


Salmon has a rather fatty flesh and is characterized by a peculiar and elegant flavor. It is often served with lemon and herbs. A white wine with good acidity and a certain freshness is the ideal candidate for pairing with smoked salmon.

The light tropical scents, the freshness, and the balanced richness of an Australian Pinot Gris will support the refined flavors of salmon and balance the structure of the dish without overpowering it.

Our suggestion: Tamar Ridge Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris spicy food pairing.

Spicy food

Spicy food is the ideal off-dry Pinot Gris food match. The wine's high acidity and delicious freshness will balance the warmth of the food, while the distinctive tropical and spiced aromas will pair well with the sweet and sour flavors of Asian recipes. Choose Indian, Thai, and fusion dishes with lots of spices and a touch of chili.

Our suggestion: Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris Grand Cru Kessler

Pinot Gris cheese pairing

The fantastic Pinot Gris pairing food versatility allows a great variety of combinations with cheeses.

If dry and younger wines can pair well with cheeses with a delicate flavor, the off-dry Pinot Gris, with their sugar residue and round body, are perfect for more tasty cheeses such as Camembert, or Reblochon. For blue cheeses, the perfect Pinot Gris pairing is with a Vendage Tardive. Your taste buds will be delighted by the perfect match between the sweetness of the wine and the pungency of a Gorgonzola Piccante.

Pinot Gris is also a great companion for cheese based dishes such as French onion soup where grated gruyere cheese is one of the main ingredients.

Our suggestion: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendange Tardive

Pinot Gris chicken pairing.


Thanks to the delicacy of flavors and the leanness of its meat, chicken lends itself well to a myriad of different recipes and types of cooking. Grilled chicken takes on smoky flavors while when roasted the caramelization of the skin adds a slight degree of sweetness. And we must never forget, the sauces, spices, and herbs added during cooking.

The medium body of Pinot Gris and the delicate and slightly sweet aromas make it the perfect wine for chicken meat. The high acidity ensures that this white wine goes well with citrus sauces or with recipes that call for tomatoes and peppers, while wines with tropical aromas and expressive notes of ripe fruit are the best Pinot Gris wine pairing for Asian recipes.

Our suggestion: Villa Maria Private Bin Pinot Gris

Pork and ham

The distinctive attributes to consider when choosing a wine to pair with pork are its fatness and the seasonings. Since pork is a relatively fatty meat, it's always best to pair it with a medium-bodied wine with lively acidity to cleanse the palate. And if it is served with fruit sauces, you can also choose an off-dry wine.

Alsatian Pinot Gris with its roundness and generosity of flavors can be combined very well with a pork tenderloin served with apple sauce, while a fresher and slightly lighter wine but with a good flavor and a delicate aromatic sweetness like some Pinot Gris from Oregon will be perfect for the slight salinity of the ham.

Our suggestion: Maysara Arsheen Pinot Gris


Food pairing with Pinot Gris can be extremely fun and creative. Pinot Gris dry or sweet versions allow great versatility with different ingredients and recipes.

Here, we have given you plenty of info and suggestions, now you just have to pick your favorite Pinot Gris food pairing and enjoy!

Photo by Nigab Pressbilder