A Wine Lover’s Guide To Pinot Noir Grapes

The red Pinot Noir grape is said to have originated about two thousand years ago in the Burgundy region of eastern France and subsequently expanded into the Champagne region of northeastern France. Pinot Noir is the dominant red grape variety of the world-famous Burgundy region of France, especially in the Cote d’Or district. It is one of the three varieties allowed in Champagne, whose production is limited by law to the region of that name in northeastern France. Pinot Noir is planted in many other countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and the United States, especially California and Oregon, where it is the signature variety.

When successfully grown and processed, which is definitely not an easy task, cool-weather Pinot Noir yields a medium-bodied, complex wine with a soft, velvety texture. It has a cherry, strawberry aroma and palate that frequently ages well. Warm-weather Pinot Noir usually generates a less complex wine, one with a weaker color. Classic tastes that are associated with this grape include earth, underbrush, and mushrooms. Pinot Noir is definitely one of the most difficult grapes to grow and transform into wine. Poorly made Pinot Noir wines have a pronounced barnyard smell, however good Pinot Noirs may have a slight barnyard aroma. Pinot Noir may be blended with the red Pinot Meunier grape and the white Chardonnay grape to produce Champagne. The color in Pink or Rose Champagne stems from Pinot Noir grape skins. In addition to Champagne, (can anyone add another wine to Champagne?) it may be blended with several white wine grape varieties to produce sparkling white wines, ranging from dry to sweet.

Here are some of the many, many food pairings suggested for Pinot Noir: . Baked Short Ribs, Beef Bourguignonne, Brie Cheese, Cobb Salad, Duck a l’orange, Edam Cheese, Fettuccine Alfredo, Gouda Cheese, Lamb Stew, Pizza with White Sauce, Pork Tenderloin, Prime Rib, Quail, Rabbit, Roast Duck, Roast Pork, Sea Bass, Seafood Stew (broth-based), Smoked Cheese, Tabbouleh, Tuna,and Veal Chops. Is it any wonder that Pinot Noir is considered to be very food friendly? Pinot Noir and Salmon is quite a classic pairing, giving the lie to part of that old adage, red wine with meat, white wine with fish.

Over the years I have reviewed almost too many Pinot Noir wines to count. Among the countries visited on my virtual Pinot Noir tours are France, South Africa, Italy, Australia, Israel, Canada, and Germany, and also the states of California and Oregon.

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