How about a touch of gray this Thanksgiving dinner? Gray, that is, in the sense of what the Italians call Pinot Grigio and the French call Pinot Gris. This grape has become so popular over the last decade that there been a flood of industrial, characterless wines. However, this does not apply to all examples of Pinot Grigio available right now. Here are three that could work well with the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
jump for the vine..
First, a very unusual example from Italy. Voga Sparkling Pinot Grigio is a non-vintage sparkling wine made using the Charmat method. It retails for around $12. Despite the bulk production method, the painfully hip bottle and advertising, and the absence of the traditional sparkling wine grapes (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) this is a darn good wine. The extra-dry classification means that it is less dry than a brut while still being dry enough to feel refreshing before the Thanksgiving meal. Serve this when the relatives arrive and are waiting for the food. Start munching hors d’oeuvres and discover the wide range of food that it goes with (nuts, dolmas, and dips, to name a few). Think of it as an economical alternative to Champagne or California sparkling wine and ignore the lack of complexity and traditional packaging. Just luxuriate in its hipness.
Next, a conventional Pinot Grigio table wine that exceeds expectations. 2009 Maso Canali Pinot Grigio, Trentino, Italy ($17) comes from a corner of the E&J Gallo wine empire but has more intense fruit and a heavier mouth feel than you usually find in Pinot Grigio. First, high altitude vineyards contribute a mineral concentration to the wine. Second, not all the grapes are harvested and vinified in the same way. About 10% of them are left to hang late so that the sugars increase. After harvesting, they are dried on mats (a process known as passito). They are then vinified into an altogether sweeter, more concentrated, more viscous wine which is then blended into the wine made from the other 90% of the grapes. The result is a Pinot Grigio that is weightier on the tongue, more concentrated, and more complex than the typical Italian invocation of this grape. This Pinot Grigio is best with food. Try it with the Thanksgiving turkey (or, at other times of year, calamari, pasta with non-red sauce, fish and chips, chicken, risotto, or even pizza).
Our third example is a domestic wine 2009 King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon ($15). If you prefer your Pinot Gris richer and more New World in style then this may be the wine for you. Best with the Thanksgiving turkey and fixins’.
All of these wines are widely available around town now.