Pinot Noir is the 10th most planted grape variety in the world. Wines made with Pinot Noir have cultivated a gigantic following of hardcore wine enthusiasts. In fact, average prices for Pinot Noir tend to be higher than other grapes. So what is it about this grape that is so darn special to enthusiasts? Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting facts about Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir is over 1000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon

Pinot Noir ranks with some of the oldest grapes in the world. Grapes that have been around since the Roman times also include Muscat Blanc — the Moscato grape, Timorasso, a rare white grape with only 50 acres around Piedmont Italy; and nearly extinct Gouais Blanc, which supposedly was ‘the grape’ of the middle ages in Europe.

Pinot Noir = Pinot Grigio = Pinot Blanc

Wine writers Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and José Vouillamoz of the book Wine Grapes claim that Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc are simply color mutations of Pinot Noir. Each grape DNA was analyzed only to find out they are identical. So, if you like Pinot Noir, start drinking all the Pinots!

Germany is a top Pinot Noir Producer

Germany is the 3rd largest producer of Pinot Noir after France and the US. Pinot Noir is commonly called Spätburgunder in Germany. The wines from the Baden (in the Kaiserstuhl district), Pfalz (‘faults’) and the Nahe (‘nah-ha’) are all worth finding and drinking.

Where there’s Pinot Noir, there’s Chardonnay

Chardonnay is actually related to Pinot Noir. It’s a natural crossing of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc (the near extinct variety mentioned above!). This is why Chardonnay and Pinot Noir always seem to grow together (such as in Oregon, Burgundy, and Chile).


Pinot Noir has tannin!Grand-Cru-Burgundy-Tasting

Grand Cru Burgundy wines with loads of tannin.

Pinot Noir is often noted for its natural ability to be lighter than other red wines and have low tannin. However, a recent tasting of Grand Cru Burgundy showed that Pinot Noir can have a hell of a lot more tannin. How do winemakers do this? Well, besides reducing yields in the vineyards to make concentrated grapes, many producers will make wines with a technique called ‘Whole Cluster Fermentation’. Whole cluster fermentation is when the entire grape bunch, including the stems, goes into the crusher and fermenter. This technique is rarely practiced on wine varieties other than Pinot. The stems add tannin (which you can taste on the front of your mouth as a drying and astringent sensation). The tannin adds a longer runway of life for the wines to age. This technique is typically used for high-end wines that people plan on cellaring for a minimum of 10 years before drinking.

What Glass for Pinot Noir?

Pinot Noir Glass with Wine Expert Madeline Puckette

If you’re serious about Pinot Noir, you might start looking for a ‘proper’ Pinot Noir Glass. There are no rules to what exactly to buy, but here’s what makes a great Pinot Noir glass:

  • A large round bell-shaped glass. This is important to collect the delicate aromas of Pinot Noir. You can use a whiskey snifter or a fish bowl if you’re in a bind.
  • A stem. This isn’t required, but it helps if you’re addicted to swirling wine.

7 Classic Recommended Pinot Noir Food Pairings

Spiced Duck with Confit Ragù

Duck is a classic dish to pair with Pinot Noir. The acidity in Pinot will cut through the fat and gamey flavors of duck. If you spice the duck, it will bring out all the nuanced flavors in Pinot Noir.

Mushroom Risotto

Any time you can have an earthy-fatty dish using mushrooms it will always highlight the fruitiness of Pinot Noir. This dish is especially good with Old World style Pinot Noir.

Chicken w/ Beurre Rouge

Chicken usually loves a rich white wine such as Chardonnay, however, a Beurre rouge sauce (you can make it with Pinot Noir!) will match it fantastically!

Grilled Trout with Bacon, Green Beans and Farro

Fish and red wine is tricky because the aftertaste of sea and the aftertaste of tannin in red wine is atrocious. However, if you use a very fresh river fish such as trout or salmon served in a hearty style, you can get away with a little red wine.

White Pizza

High acidity and aromatic red wines go very well with cheese and bread. For those of you who eat pizza at least 2 times a week try adding fresh herbs to accentuate the floral notes in the Pinot Noir.

Lobster Pea Ravioli w/ Cream

A rich fish like lobster can pair with Pinot Noir as long as it’s a component within the dish.

Wild mushrooms and Polenta with Goat cheese and Herbs

Vegetarians will love Pinot Noir because it goes with most roasted vegetable dishes, herbs and of course… mushroom!

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