Editor’s note: The wrong Celia Strong column ran in the Dec. 1 edition. This is the correct version.
By Celia Strong
Wow! What are we getting into this week? Nothing to be overly anxious about, just another new wine. It is pink and perky and perfect for the holidays and it is an interesting new version of an ever popular grape variety.
By now, we should all know Pinot Grigio wines are white. Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape. Just two versions of the name (one French, one Italian).
The differences in these wines are caused mostly by where the grapes are grown and partly by what the winemaker does with his particular grapes.
We need to review the differences in the members of the Pinot grape family. Pinot Noir is one of its red skinned members. It is probably the best quality grape in the family, difficult to grow, but capable of making very expensive and very long living wines.
Pinot Meunier is also a red skinned member. It is known mostly for its use in Champagnes, although, on occasion, you can find a good still red wine made from it. Pinot Blanc is the white (truly green skinned) member. It makes fairly full-bodied, dry white wines. Unfortunately, it is usually left behind by the more popular Pinot Nour and Pinot Gris/Grigio.
Looking at the color of the Pinot Grigio’s skin, it might be a bit confusing. “Gris” and “Grigio” both mean gray. But, the grape skin is really a grayish-purple- ish- rose-ish- blue-ish- brown-ish- pink-ish color. Kind of blotchy. Kind of between true red and true green skin.
So, are Pinot Grigio wines not supposed to be white? No. Of course they should be white.
The first Italian Pinot Grigio wines were produced in the 1950s before some of the updated technology available today. Some Pinot Grigio grapes would grow and ripen with a more rosy tinted skin. And, the winemakers would use this to enhance the color and flavors of their wines.
The resulting wines were copper colored. They were called “ramato,” Italian for copper. Sort of rosé, sort of not. For better or worse, the trend for clear, light wines and the technology to fine or filter out the copper color meant most of the ramato wines disappeared.
Since our wine is labeled as a “Pinot Grigio,” let’s look at its styles and flavors.
The primary fruit flavors in Pinot Grigio are lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and apple. There can be faint hints of honey, saline, clove, ginger and spice and bits of floral tones. And, always, the crisp fresh acidity these wines are known and loved for.
Our pink Pinot Grigio is Mirabello, from Adria Vini. This company is a winemaking venture established in 2003. It is owned by both Boutinot and Araldica Castelvero and is from the Monferrato hills in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy.
The first reaction to this wine comes just from seeing its name. Pink Pinot Grigio? Really? Yes! We just have to get beyond all of our learning and realize new and different can be good.
This wine is made from 87 percent Pinot Grigio and 13 percent Pinot Nero (Italian for Pinot Noir). The grapes are hand harvested, sorted in the vineyard and then destalked and crushed.
Before pressing, they go through 12 hours of cold maceration with the skins for the wine’s color, then a gentle bladder pressing and a first fermentation in stainless steel. The Charmat process is used for a second fermentation that lasts two weeks, followed by eight weeks of aging on its lees. The lovely rosy pink shade of this wine comes from both varieties. (Sorry, though, no copper/ramato color.)
It is creamy and fizzy in your mouth with flavors and aromas of red raspberries, strawberries and red currants. It has a lush texture and yeasty complexities.
As we go through the next weeks, full of holiday meals and parties and visits with families and friends and extra work and everything else that’s coming, a nice to perky wine is really going to be perfect. Sparkling Pink Pinot Grigio. For $8.99. Truly perfect! Enjoy.
Celia Strong works at Bill’s Liquor & Fine Wines on Lady’s Island.