Wine Profile: Pinot Noir
Some people claim that Pinot Noir is bland or watery, well those people just haven’t had good Pinot, and that is just plain sad. While Pinot Noir may not be a big, powerful, richly tannic wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, its flavors are certainly not weak or feeble. They may be softer and more refined but they are still rich and complex and lush. In fact, Pinot Noir is rarely blended with any other grapes because it is so complex all on its own. Pinot has a unique ability to adapt to its surroundings and showcase the region in which it was grown. This means that while one Pinot Noir might not be your proverbial cup of tea, there is a very good chance that there is another one, from a different climate, in a different style that floats your particular boat.
VARIATION BREEDS PERFECTION
Of all the classic wine grapes Pinot Noir is the most difficult to grow. It mutates easily in the vineyard, is sensitive to the slightest climate variations, and it can be unstable during winemaking. This tendency to mutate means that Pinot has spawned hundreds of different clones and even different varietals. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Grigio and Pinot Meunier are just some of the varietals descendent from Pinot Noir. That Pinot Noir is a cool climate grape makes it unlike any of the other classic red varietals. And it is able to ripen relatively quickly in cooler climes because of its thin skins. It is those thin skins that lead to lighter wines with minimal pigmentation and lighter tannins. While tannins normally provide the structure for most red wines for Pinot Noir acid serves this purpose instead.
ACIDITY, SPICE & EVERYTHING NICE
The best Pinot Noirs showcase flavors of warm cherries, damp earth, mushrooms, chocolate, leather, and dried leaves. And among all that, they are driven by a central core of acidity, which is one of the reasons they are some of the most flexible wines for food. One of the best ways I have heard Pinot described is as a white wine in red clothing. It is essentially the best of both worlds, the clean, bright acidity of a white wine mixed with the complexity of fruit and earth of a red.
And it is precisely this combination that makes them such a compliment to such a huge range of food. Pinot Noir goes well with so many things, from a cheese plate to a piece of grilled meat, from chicken to fish. They are especially lovely with mushrooms, other vegetables and anything else with a little earthy note. But the beauty of Pinot is that there are so many different styles and they are endlessly adaptable. That is why Pinot Noir is a perfect wine to order in a restaurant setting when everyone is ordering something different. This sexy, sensual wine hits the spot for everyone.
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