Who is he ? Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir, originally from Burgundy. The grape sports variable hues, from pink to blue, passing through brick and brown, but always with grayish reflections, hence its name. Moreover, the Burgundians call it pinot beurot, in reference to the color of the homespun of the monks of the region.
What wines does it produce? Ouch, this is already getting complicated. It is mainly known in Alsace, through overly confidential dry whites and great sweet whites (“late harvests”). Faithful to its Burgundian origins, Pinot Gris delivers a beautiful aromatic complexity, with flavors that are more elegant than intense. But, because of the color of his skin, he can also produce rosés, in the Center Loire, for example. Particularly pale in the glass, they can be described as gray wines. On the other hand, in the Val-de-Loire, in Coteaux-d’Ancenis, as well as in Valais in Switzerland, Pinot Gris does well with white but is rather called Malvoisie.
What does it have to do with tokay? Ouch, the puzzle is getting worse. In Alsace, it has long been called that. Then “tokay pinot gris”, before finally dropping the term “tokay” in 2007, in the face of the dissatisfaction of Hungarian tokaj producers. This is because, since the 16th century, the Alsatians were persuaded to grow vines from Hungary, brought back by the diplomat Lazare de Schwendi. It visibly smoky them, but the Alsatians who were too stubborn and, above all, too delighted to practice, as in central Europe, the noble rot and late harvest specific to these great sweet wines, had difficulty in getting rid of the name. The Italians make life less complicated, they call it pinot grigio and they love it as a dry and fruity wine. In the north of the country in particular, Friuli in the lead but also Veneto and Lombardy.
How to recognize it? Has its smoky, grilled, roasted notes, uncommon in white wines. If its aromas are not particularly expressive, and sometimes even timid, the palette is very wide, from apricot to honey, dried fruits to praline, spices to toast. It is more expansive in the mouth, with a lot of breadth and roundness, structure. This is further accentuated with the sweet wines: it then becomes remarkably powerful and of excessive length.
What to drink it with? If it is systematically recommended for foie gras and smoked salmon (for the famous smoky notes), it can play on many more tables. And, above all, investing in the field of red wines. It keeps good company with veal chops, blanquette, roast pork, kidneys. But also with a tagine, chicken curry, duck à l’orange and, of course, fish in sauce.
Who is he ? A difficult name to read, already (a trick, all the letters are pronounced). Then, a variety of Traminer Rose, an old grape variety from Tramin, a region in southern Austrian Tyrol, known in our regions as Savagnin Rose. Gewürz, which means “spice” in German, makes the picture more understandable: it is a particularly aromatic mutation of savagnin rose. The skin of the grape is therefore, logically, pink, with coral or brown variations depending on the vine stock.
What wines does it produce? Dry, mellow, even syrupy whites if the grapes are picked in late harvests. But also orange wines, if you let the skin diffuse its color. In any case, intense, powerful, sometimes even imposing, almost intimidating wines. In France, apart from a few whimsical attempts in Languedoc, his stronghold is almost exclusively Alsatian. A rich but low-acid variety, it does best in cool to temperate climates. It is therefore also found in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bulgaria, Moldova, etc., always with this ability to give birth to full-bodied wines, sometimes sweet, always aromatically intense.
How to recognize it? It’s easy ! Because gewurztraminer is characterized by aromas that belong only to it: lychee and rose in the head. With an aromatic richness rarely equalled, behind it unfolds a string of tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, passion fruit), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), flowers (jasmine, gardenia, acacia), but also apricot or dried fruit. This extravagant grape variety summons the markets of the Orient, distant travels. Above all, let’s remember that if it smells of lychee, it’s gewurz’.
What to drink it with? This is a fascinating piece of thinking. His extroverted character suggests difficult agreements. In reality, relying on its exotic flavors and its power, we can make it a strong ally. To him Thai, Indonesian or Indian gastronomy, even Moroccan, spicy and spicy dishes, sweet and sour chicken, fish with ginger, pork with caramel. Is there coconut milk, lemongrass, cumin or turmeric in the dish? Nothing scares him. It’s up to us to dare.