Episode 102: Shades of Gray – A Grape Gab About Pinot Gris (Show Notes)

Episode 102: Shades of Gray – A Grape Gab About Pinot Gris

Our version of March Madness is having a Grape Gab about the gray – or grey – grape known as Pinot Gris – or Grigio. We talk about what it is, what it isn’t, wine styles, and share a little story about a “one night stand in a bottle.” Also, what is “fat washing” and what does it have to do with cocktails? Val and Steph are giddy to tell you! Finally, we bring it on home with Wino Radar and comments from you. We hope this week’s episode inspires you to find something new to sip and enjoy. Happy Spring!

Welcome to episode 102! This week we’re having a grape gab about the gray grape known as Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio. We’ve also got some more input from W25 subscribers, so stick around to see what they have to say. (Except for that part where one of them bags on Val’s issue with ice.) But first things first.

We’re together drinking again!

In our glasses:

Steph:  “I couldn’t find any version of Pinot Gris in my house… so I opened the bottle of Trinitas 2012 Old Vine Petite Sirah that I packed in my suitcase before leaving the Women of the Vine & Spirits Symposium at the Meritage Resort in Napa.”

Val: “I almost went to my “go to” Pinot Gris, but actually found an excellent Pinot Grigio in Walla Walla at Locati Cellars. This is the 2014 from their Breezy Slopes vineyard. I can honestly say this is the first Pinot Grigio I actually have ever bought at a winery. Ever. Thank you to Tara in the Tasting Room for the tour of Locati wines back in September!”


Discussion Topic:

It’s time for another grape gab about the gray/gris/grigio – it’s like ‘shades of gray’, but with wine.

What it is: It’s important to lay out what it is. For one, it’s actually a mutation of the Pinot Noir variety, just as is the Pinot Blanc. Pinot Noir, in fact, is known for mutating in the vineyard to the point that sometimes you can find different colored berries on the same vine or bunch!

What it isn’t: Well, it’s not a white grape, although many of us are familiar with more of the whiter style wines made from it, yes? The color is more of a pinkish-bluish variation, hence the name, gris, which is French for gray.

Other names, other places: Pinot Grigio is what the Italians call it (grigio is Italian for gray). Grauburgunder is used (grau means gray) in Germany. Malvoisie in Switzerland is also our friend the Pinot Gris.

It should also be noted that is authorized in Champagne and was one of the original Champagne grapes known as Fromenteau!

What’s the difference between wines named Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris? If we look at the richer styles of Pinot Gris traditional to Alsace, it’s fair to assess that what Oregon typically puts out is similar. Oak and lees aging can happen here lending that richer style.

Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, is often perceived as less complex, not oaked and more light and refreshing. Unfortunately, we’ve all encountered the insipid, mass-produced quaffing styles. That said, these are the wines that do, in fact, make excellent sangria.

As with just about everything, there are exceptions and these are not hard and fast rules. Val’s favorite example is the Ramato styles famous in Northern Italy, one of which Val refers to as a “One night stand in a bottle”.

Think about it, if you let the grapes and skins “make love for one night, all night long”, the wine will take on this beautiful auburn or copper color (ramato means copper colored) and this richer mouthfeel from the phenolic compounds leached from the skins. I mean, come ON!

How it’s different from “vin gris”

While Vin Gris translates to “grey wine”, it really isn’t gray. It’s also not made with Pinot Gris/Grigio. It’s made with black grapes.

Wait, what?

This is the definition of a very pale style of rose’ wine that is made with red grapes. Maybe the grapes and skins don’t quite “make-a love-a”, but a quick press – or peck on the cheek – gives the wine it’s slightly tinted, baby pink or salmon color.

*Le sigh*


This week we have a cool factoid on “fat washing” I found an article in the United Hemispheres Magazine by Nicole Schnitzler (@write_to_eat) that piqued Val’s interest.

Did you know there was such a thing as Fat-Washing? In the context of making cocktails, that is. So what it is is a method for infusing flavors from fatty foods, such as – oh, I don’t know, BACON – into a spirit to then be used in a cocktail.

So here’s what you do:

  • Start with a liquid form of a favorite fat fat that turns solid when chilled. (Coconut oil, some cheeses, fois gras, or butter would also work here, so think along those lines)
  • Mix the fat with your spirit, such as a whiskey, vodka, gin or anything that is above 20% ABV.
  • Seal the mixture in either a jar, some tupperware or even a ziplock bag.
  • Shake it up once in awhile to allow all that flavor to get happy (time to infuse may vary from hours to days, depending on the flavors and spirits)
  • Strain off the fat and particles.

From here you can create some ridiculous cocktails that harken to some of our favorite artery-hardening foods.

Here is a recipe from Difford’s Guide that also talks about Fat Washing to create the Benton’s Old Fashioned with bacon-infused bourbon.

Oh hellz to the yes!



Big shoutout love to Rebecca Fletcher who is the VIP & Trade Coordinator for Raymond Vineyards in Napa. She gave Steph the royal Napa and Sonoma welcome treatment during her visit there in mid-March.

We are also happy to not only give shoutouts, but to share your voice messages to help us celebrate our 100th episode!

Of course you heard from Lynn, another Tenacious Taster, as well as Andrew and Clay, of our 5 fabulous “It’s not five o’clock and we don’t care” supporters in Episode 100.

Patreon Love: 

Thank you so much to our Patreon supporters! Sending out some Patreon Love to:

“TENacious Tasters”: 

Jeff E from the hilarious drinking show, We Like Drinking!

Lynn G from Savor the Harvest!



Sebastian S of Sassi Italy tours!


“It’s not five o’clock and we don’t care” listeners: Thank you:

  • Meg from South Dakota!
  • Clay from Arizona!
  • Jon in California!
  • Andrew in Illinois!
  • Aswani in California!

We thank you for being a vital part of the W25 listening and sipping community.

Reminder – we have a new monthly Patreon drawing! Starting January 2017, each month we are drawing a winner of Albarello Luxury Hand Soap for all Patreon supporters at the $2/month Tastemaker Listener level and higher. Go to our Patreon page for details. www.patreon.com/winetwofivepodcast

This episode also brought to you by …

Bright Cellars! Have you taken advantage of the special Wine Two Five listener deal on Bright Cellars? Let us know what wines you got!  https://www.brightcellars.com/WineTwoFive/

Share the Love:

If you love Wine Two Five then we know you’ll share our show with your friends and online community, and we certainly appreciate all your involvement and feedback. Leave us a burning wine question or comment on speakpipe. iTunes love is always appreciated in the form of a glowing iTunes review as well. For your listening pleasure, whether IOS or Android, we are also on iHeartRadio!

Come play with us on FB, Twitter, Pinterest & YouTube, Google+ if you’d like. Also, you can build your collection of wine books & accessories at our online store also located on our website!

Connect with Val on Twitter @WineGalUnboxed and on the Vino With Val FB page, and on instagram as Vino with Val. Oh, and she occasionally pins things on her Vino With Val, LLC Pinterest page.

Steph is on Twitter @Albarellosoap and on the AlbarelloSoap FB page, and check out the videos on the Albarello YouTube channel. She is also on instagram as the Wine Heroine as well as Pinterest.

One more thing – don’t forget to use our new hashtag #WineOops to share your funny wine moments and embarrassing wine stories on social media!