The Wine Profile Series: Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the 10th-most planted wine grape in the world, and it would be much more popular, but the grape is hard to grow. Wine made with Pinot Noir has a wide fan base, thanks to its elegance, lightness, and complexity. Pinot Noir produces fruit-forward wines with floral and earthbound hints, extending long into the aftertaste, making it easy to love. This is what you need to know about Pinot Noir.

Primary Flavors:

  • Red and black cherries, raspberries, dried flowers, mushrooms, truffles and oak spices.

Taste Profile:

  • Dry
  • Light-body
  • Medium-high acidity
  • 5 – 13.5% ABV


  • Serving temperature: 10-15°C (50-60°F)
  • Wine glass: Aroma collector, Burgundy wine glasses.
  • Decant: 30 minutes before serving
  • Cellar: 5-10+ years

Food and Wine Pairings:

  • Oily fish
  • Mushroom dishes
  • Stewed meat
  • Asian stir-fries
  • Roasted poultry
  • Grilled pork

6 Fun Facts About Pinot Noir

  • Pinot Noir originated in Burgundy, where it grew wild before being discovered and favored by the region’s grape growers. Pinot is one of the most ancient varietals in the world.
  • Mark your calendar! August 19 is Pinot Noir Day.
  • Pinot Noir grows in cold continental climates, and so does its most popular offspring, Chardonnay. You’ll often find both grapes in the same regions worldwide.
  • Pinot Noir is more than red wine; producers also use it to make sparkling wine in regions as well-known as Champagne. Blanc de Noir sparkling wines are made with Pinot Noir (and Pinot Meunier).
  • Thanks to its role in Champagne, Pinot Noir is one of the few wine grapes used to make red, sparkling white, and rosé wine styles.
  • DNA analysis revealed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are merely mutations of the same grape!

Pinot Noir grows best in cold climates with long growing seasons. It is prone to fungal diseases, so it doesn’t enjoy moisture much. Pinot Noir is native to France but is also widely planted in the United States, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Germany, and many others.

The grape has different names in several regions, including Spätburgunder in Germany and Pinot Nero in Italy. Let’s explore the two most famous expressions of Pinot Noir, French, and American Pinot Noir.

French Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, hibiscus, rose petal, mushroom, potting soil

Pinot Noir is a cherished varietal in France. It grows in Burgundy, Champagne, Central Loire, and, to a lesser extent, in Languedoc Roussillon. The best French Pinot Noir grows in Burgundy on the Côte d’Or, a south-east facing slope south of Dijon. Burgundy’s Pinot Noir has been coveted since the Middle Ages when Cistercian monks tended the very same vineyards still cultivated today.

Every Burgundian producer has its philosophy in the vineyard and cellar, giving diversity to the region’s wines. Burgundian Pinot Noir shows riper fruit on warm vintages and more earthbound aromas on cold years. Both styles can be easy sippers for weeknight enjoyment or cellar-worthy wines ideal for the most memorable dinner parties.

American Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, Raspberry, Allspice, Darjeeling Tea, Vanilla

The United States is a source of diverse wine, but two grape varieties dominate the wine scene: Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Pinot Noir is king in colder American Viticultural Areas or AVAs, especially on California’s north and central coast. Regions freshened by the maritime breeze and the fog running down the San Pablo Bay make the conditions ideal for growing the cold-climate red grape. California Pinot Noir is often fruit-forward and consistently riper than Burgundian examples.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley is colder than California and much more similar to Burgundy. Unsurprisingly, the region produces elegant Pinots that are often considered a middle ground between Burgundian and Californian expressions.

The Bottom Line

Whether you enjoy ripe, fruit-forward Pinot Noir or prefer tarter, earthier expressions, producers worldwide have a bottle of Pinot Noir for you. Pinot Noir might be hard to grow and picky when it comes to terroir, but what it has in common is that the wine is always crowd-pleasing and delicious!

Want to read more about Pinot Noir? Try out these books!

Pinot Noir, The Wine Profile Series: Pinot NoirPinot Noir, The Wine Profile Series: Pinot NoirPinot NoirPinot Noir, The Wine Profile Series: Pinot Noir

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