Monday , May 20 2024

Pinot Noir 101: Flavours that Linger on the Pallet

You can’t really declare yourself a wine enthusiast if you won’t fall in love at first sip with one of the most sought-after yet ostensibly uncommon dry red wines in the world – Pinot Noir. Romanticised by wine fans and popular culture through films like Sideways, it has long been at the pinnacle of the wine world and shows no signs of slowing down in popularity any time soon.

Depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made, Pinot Noir can either be crisp, fruit-forward, and ideal for casual drinking, or it can age for decades which makes the wine so hard to beat!

What Is Pinot Noir?

bottle of pinot noir


Wake up your senses with intensely aromatic and delicious Pinot Noir wines made of top-quality grapes. The term Pinot Noir stands for both the name of a grape and the single-varietal wine produced from it. The grapes’ dark colour and pine-cone-shaped bunches on the vine inspired the name, which is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black.”

Being one of France’s oldest grape varieties the Pinot Noir wine was first grown in Burgundy more than a century ago by Cistercian monks. Today, it is prized by collectors for its elegance and longevity, especially when it comes from Burgundy’s most renowned vineyards. It’s one of the costliest wines in the world because of its high demand and challenging growing conditions.


Although the exact origins of Pinot Noir wines are unknown, Burgundy, France, has long been considered to be the spiritual home, producing some of the world’s best single-varietal wines. Winemakers from throughout the world aimed to imitate the success of Burgundy as its wines gained popularity and increased in price. This prompted the planting of Pinot Noir in many regions of the New World and Europe.

However, Pinot Noir performs better in cooler climates because warmer climates and hot weather obliterate its distinctive acidity, delicacy, and refinement. France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Chile are currently the nations that produce the best Pinot Noir.

glass and grapes of pinot noir


Moreover, when grown in colder climates the wine reaches its most complex expression and combined with its notoriously thin skins makes it the ideal candidate for producing wines with elevated levels of resveratrol. Resveratrol may lessen low-density lipoprotein, and bad cholesterol, protect blood arteries and prevent blood clots. In other words, in addition to taking health supplements, you can also have a glass of Pinot Noir.

Taste and Characteristics

In terms of taste, Pinot Noir typically has a light to medium body, bright acidity, smooth tannins, and an alcohol content between 12 and 15%. When matured in French wood, the greatest variety develops a complex flavour profile with notes of cherry, raspberry, mushroom, forest floor, plus vanilla and baking spice.

But the taste can vary based on climate and producer style. More delicate and light-bodied Pinot Noir is produced in cooler climates. Warmer environments result in varieties that are more ripe, full-bodied, and alcoholic. Some winemakers age their wines on French wood that is entirely new, which results in a richer, more textured wine.

Many people frequently wonder if Pinot Noir is considered a sweet wine. Having in mind the fact that the wine boasts wonderful red fruit tastes and is juicy due to its naturally high acidity, this question makes sense. But the flavour of juicy fruit does not suggest the presence of sugar. Dry Pinot Noir is produced virtually exclusively.

In this regard, dry wine is one in which the sugar from the grape must is converted to alcohol by yeast after the grapes are crushed. When all the sugar has been metabolized, a completely dry wine is produced.

There may occasionally be some sugar residue, often known as residual sugar. This could be done on purpose to give the beverage a hint of richness and sweetness, or it could be a sign that the yeast didn’t complete fermentation. But even a few grams of RS per litre is still regarded as a dry wine.

Alcohol Percentage and Calories

The alcohol percentage in the wine will depend upon the growing region. Ripeness is influenced by climate, which affects alcohol content. When grown in warmer climes like California and Australia, it can range from 13.5-15% alcohol by volume, whereas it frequently has 12–13.5% abv when planted in cooler countries like France and Germany. The final alcohol content of the wine is also influenced by both hot and cold vintages.

On the other hand, low-sugar dry wine doesn’t necessarily mean low-calorie wine. Pinot Noir red wine contains calories from alcohol. Typically, a five-ounce portion has roughly 125 calories or 625 calories in a 750 ml bottle. However, it will contain a little number of carbohydrates, or carbs, if there is a trace of residual sugar. Additionally, the average carbohydrate content of dry wines is 4 grams.

Food Pairings

glasses of pinot noir and meat


Indeed, Pinot Noir is one of the wines that refutes the conventional wisdom that red wine and meat go best together. It pairs best with foods that enhance its lovely fruit flavours, crisp acidity, and graceful elegance. So, it’s the ideal match for white meats like chicken, pork, and turkey as well as lighter red meats like lamb and duck.

Salmon and other fish with fuller flavours also work well, as does cooking fish with richer flavours. The savoury flavours of the wine pair well with earthy vegetables and herbs like thyme and mushrooms, especially when added to risotto and pasta. However, foods that are intensely flavourful and thick don’t go well with Pinot Noir, as they may overshadow the wine’s delicate flavour.