AskDefine | Define gris

Dictionary Definition

Gris n : Spanish cubist painter (1887-1927) [syn: Jaun Gris]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. pig




gris m (gris m, pl grise f, grises f, pl)



  1. pig



Perhaps from Provençal gris


gris m/f




  1. pig; mammal of the genus Sus
  2. nasty or dirty person.


Extensive Definition

Pinot gris is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name ("gris" meaning "gray" in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance. The word "Pinot", which means "pinecone" in French, could have been given to it because the grapes grow in small pinecone-shaped clusters. The wines produced from this grape also vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. The clone of Pinot gris grown in Italy is known as Pinot grigio.


Pinot gris has been known from the Middle Ages in the Burgundy region, where it was probably called Fromenteau. It spread from Burgundy, along with Pinot noir, arriving in Switzerland by 1300. The grape was reportedly a favorite of the Emperor Charles IV, who had cuttings imported to Hungary by Cistercian monks: the brothers planted the vines on the slopes of Badacsony bordering Lake Balaton in 1375. The vine soon after developed the name Szürkebarát meaning "grey monk." In 1711, a German merchant, named Johann Seger Ruland (re)discovered a grape growing wild in the fields of the Palatinate. The subsequent wine he produced became known as Ruländer and the vine was later discovered to be Pinot gris.
Until the 18th and 19th century, the grape was a popular planting in Burgundy and Champagne but poor yields and unreliable crops caused the grape to fall out of favor in those areas. The same fate nearly occurred in Germany, but vine breeders in the early 20th century were able to develop clonal varieties that would produce a more consistent and reliable crop.
Around 2005, Pinot gris was enjoying increasing popularity in the marketplace, especially in its Pinot Grigio incarnation and similar New World varietal wines.



A major grape in Alsace, the Pinot gris wine produced here are markedly different from Pinot gris found elsewhere. Until the late twentieth century, the wines produced here were labeled Tokay d'Alsace or Tokay-pinot gris. In the Middle Ages, the grape was popularized in the region by Hungarian traders who were introduced to the grape from Burgundy. During this time, Tokaji was one of the most popular and sought after wines on the market and the name was probably used to gain more prestige for the Alsatian wine. In 1980, the European Economic Community passed regulations that now prohibit the use of "Tokay" outside of the Protected designation of origin given to the Tokaj-Hegyalja region. The Pinot gris grape has no known genetic relations to the furmint, Hárslevelű, Yellow Muscat and Orémus grapes that are traditionally used in Tokaji. The wines from Alsace are given the name Tokay d'Alsace. Since using the name of Tokay lends itself to confusing Pinot gris to the Hungarian wine, French wine authorities have been trying to phase out the Tokay designation.
The cool climate of Alsace and warm volcanic soils are particularly well suited for Pinot gris, with its dry autumns allowing plenty of time for the grapes to hang on the vines.
In Alsace, the grape has been blended with Muscat Ottonel to create the Muscat de Colmar variety which became available to growers in 2006.
Along with Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat, Pinot gris is one of the few acceptable grapes to be planted in the Alsace Grand Cru AOC.


Pinot gris was first introduced into Australia in 1832 in the collection of grapes brought by James Busby. In Victoria, wines from the grape are labeled both Pinot gris and Pinot grigio, depending on the sweetness of wine with the drier wines being labeled Pinot grigio.


In Italy, where the grape is known as Pinot grigio, plantings can be found in the Lombardy region around Oltrepo Pavese and in Alto Adige, Italy's northern most wine region. The grape is also prominent in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

New Zealand

Pinot gris is grown in both the North (Martinborough, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne) and South Islands (Central Otago, Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara), with 762 Ha planted. This makes it the fourth most planted white variety after Sauvignon blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling. Half of all plantings are in Canterbury and Marlborough, with the wine developing a "rich, flinty, fruit-laden character".

Oregon and California

David Lett, from Eyrie Vineyards, planted the first Pinot gris in Oregon in 1966. Hoping to increase sales, Lett started to graft Riesling vines to Pinot gris in 1981. The grape originally had difficulties finding a sustainable market until Lett began marketing the wine to Salmon traders as a good match to the fish. The wine's popularity began to slowly increase and hit a high point in mid-1990s when nearly every top Oregon winery was producing a Pinot gris. The Pinot gris from California is often called Pinot grigio because of its similarity in style to the wine of Italy.


The grape grows best in cool climates, and matures relatively early with high sugar levels. This can lead to either a sweeter wine, or, if fermented to dryness, a wine high in alcohol. Clusters of Pinot gris may have a variety of colors in the vine. These clusters can range from bluish grey to light pinkish brown.

Wine characteristics

Wines made from the Pinot gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style they are from. Alsatian Pinot gris are medium to full bodied wines with a rich, somewhat floral bouquet. They tend to be spicy in comparisons with other Pinot gris. While most Pinot gris are meant to be consumed early, Alsatian Pinot gris can age well. German Pinot gris are more full-bodied with a balance of acidity and slight sweetness. In Oregon the wines are medium bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, and/or melon. In California, the Pinot gris are more light bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste with some pepper and arugula notes. The Pinot grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often lean wine that is light in color with sometimes spritzy flavors that can be crisp and acidic. Although this wine can be very sweet, it will begin to lose its acidity when it is nearly ripe.


Pinot gris is called by many names in different parts of the world:


gris in Tosk Albanian: Grauburgunder
gris in German: Grauburgunder
gris in Spanish: Pinot gris
gris in French: Pinot gris
gris in Croatian: Pinot sivi
gris in Hungarian: Szürkebarát
gris in Italian: Pinot grigio
gris in Dutch: Pinot gris
gris in Portuguese: Pinot gris
gris in Slovenian: Sivi pinot
gris in Swedish: Pinot Gris
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