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Pinot Party: What To Serve When You’re Drinking Pinot Grigio

Food and wine have that same gift for triggering nostalgic recollections. Wine especially. Here are some suggestions to guarantee that afternoon ends up in the memory books.


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Few things in life are as enigmatic as the human imagination. We spend days, months, and years even, at its altar, pleading for magic, pleading for something, any drop of inspiration. And often to no avail.

And then all of a sudden, we hear the first notes of a song on the car radio driving home from work, or catch a single scent walking through the park on a windy afternoon and bang! Suddenly we are reliving a moment from the past in precise, technicolour detail.

Food and wine have that same gift for triggering nostalgic recollections. Wine especially. But where things like music and scents have our imaginations clutching at things that have been and gone, wine mostly has us looking forward to things that are yet to come. And when someone mentions a crisp white wine like pinot grigio, it’s safe to assume that everyone who is familiar with this wine immediately thinks of one thing: a long, hot and sunny afternoon by the sea, spent with friends and family.

But what should you serve when you’re drinking pinot grigio, given it can have such a flexible and nuanced taste? Here are some suggestions to guarantee that afternoon ends up in the memory books. 

But first, a brief bit of history

Pinot Grigio originally comes from the Burgundy region of France, where it was known as Pinot Gris, before finding its way to Northeastern Italy, where it became known as pinot grigio. And while it is easy to assume that pinot grigio and pinot gris are one and the same, given that they are made from the same grape (a mutated version of the pinot noir grape variety), they are actually quite different, both in texture and flavour. A pinot grigio is usually lighter, both in alcohol and taste, and more refreshing, with citrus aromas. A pinot gris, meanwhile, is usually richer and higher in alcohol, with spicy ginger and honey aromas.

It’s important to keep this distinction in mind when looking to pair your pinots, just so you can ensure your menu has been designed to deliver total gastronomical harmony. 

Cheese and wine: a match made on Earth

It’s hard to think of two things more synonymous with each other than cheese and wine. It’s even harder to think of an event that doesn’t become elevated by the inclusion of the combination of wine and cheese. Seriously, when is cheese and wine ever a bad idea?

What’s wonderful, though, is that not only is pinot grigio the perfect aperitif, because of its light, refreshing taste, it also pairs brilliantly with a well thought out cheese platter. Choose milder-flavoured cheeses to pair with your pinots as they won’t overbear the lightness of the wine. Think feta, mild goat cheese, mild cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, gruyere, and parmigiano reggiano. 

Peach and chicken salad
Peach and chicken salad

You can make friends with salad

Typically, if you’re entertaining friends and family with food and wine, a salad will follow your aperitif and nibbles. Again, it’s the light, fresh taste of pinot grigio that spells delight when combined with a delicately dressed salad. What shape, form, or flavour profile the salad takes is entirely up to you! Such is the versatility of pinot grigio. But we still have some suggestions.

Any salad that makes great use of seasonal summer produce will be sure to do the trick when pairing with your pinot grigio. Greens like lettuce and baby spinach, herbs like mint and coriander, cucumber, tomato, stone fruits to mimic flavours in peach salads, and citrus fruits like orange and grapefruit zest, are all sure to make perfect additions to any salad prepared for accompanying a pinot.

The delights of the sea

While enjoying seafood is a year-round activity, it’s fair to say that enjoying it in the warmer months of the year is what everyone looks forward to the most. And the great thing is, pinot grigio makes a delightful partner to pretty much every seafood dish, which honestly, couldn’t work more in your favour.

Compared with red and white meat which, unless you live rurally and/or hunt, are generally bought from the local butcher or supermarket, seafood can be caught by yourself in mere hours before it’s ready for serving. This adds a little spontaneity to your meal as the fresh seafood available is likely to vary considerably depending on where you’ll be fishing.

But, again, the versatility of pinot grigio means that no matter the tone of the gathering, whether it’s an impromptu barbeque in the backyard after a morning out fishing, or a pasta feast stuffed with various shellfish bought at the local market, the wine is going to do its part. And do it well.  

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While the case for pinot grigio’s ability to dance with any summer dish is strong, it is still up to you to provide the perfect backdrop for this wine to really show off its groove. If you keep the setting warm, breezy and spacious, then you’ll be sure to have laid a good foundation.

So all that’s left to do is chill your wine for an hour or so before your guests arrive (there’s no need to start chilling it the night before). Then simply prepare your tables, chuck on some good tunes, and get ready to engage in some good conversation, and dole out plenty of smiles to accompany your unforgettably warm, inviting, and delectable pinot party.


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