Pinot Noir has a long history, dating back to the first century when the ancient Romans discovered it in the recently conquered Gaul regions, which later became France.
Much of the early popularity of Pinot Noir is owed to the Catholic Monks, who became enamored with the wine. Once word spread that it was good enough for the church, the public fell in love with it as well. Inspired by its tight, pine cone shaped fruit clusters, Pinot Noir takes its name from a combination of the French words for pine, (pinot), and black (noir) for the grape’s dark color. Today, Pinot Noir is the primary red grape in France’s Burgundy region, which produces some of the most sought-after and age-worthy wines. Oregon’s Willamette Valley and several Northern California wine growing regions are also very well respected for their exceptional wine.
Pinot Noir’s light body makes it a great food pairing wine–the perfect choice for a group of diners eating a range of dishes from seafood to steak.
Known as “the heartbreak grape”, Pinot Noir thrives in cooler, dry climates, but can be very fickle and hard to grow. Its thin skin is delicate, requiring extremely gentle handling to avoid damage and its tight grape clusters are prone to rot. Despite many challenges, skilled and determined winemakers can be rewarded with some of the most desired wines in the world.
Predominant characteristics include delicate, sometimes sour, cherry and strawberry flavors with some spice, presenting medium to low acidity and relatively light tannins. Oaked versions may have smoke, vanilla and toast flavors. Most known for still, red wine, it is also a vital ingredient in Champagne and other sparkling white wine and is often combined with Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Blanc to add body and flavor.
Pinot Noir’s light body makes it a great food pairing wine–the perfect choice for a group of diners eating a range of dishes from seafood to steak. Generally speaking, less fruity Old World versions from France are better suited to savory, earthier dishes like roasted chicken with mushrooms, while fruitier New World Pinots tend to stretch across a broader range of flavors from duck breast with cherry sauce to savory beef with a touch of chili spice.