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Pinot Noir 101

Pinot Noir 101

Pinot Noir is a wine that most people don’t fully understand but reflexively order when it’s on the menu because it seems sophisticated. And you should, because it’s indeed a great wine with a romantic charm and a cult-like following.

Young Pinot Noir wines tend to have red fruit flavors, with hints of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries all present. Aged Pinot Noirs, on the other hand, tend to develop more vegetal and ‘barnyard’ aromas with more complex flavor profiles.

We sell a great selection of Pinot Noir wines in our store and, we’re here today to demystify them a little for you.

A High Maintenance Wine

Pinot Noir is produced from the vitis vinifera grape variety. Despite its widespread popularity, the grape is quite hard to produce wine from. The grapes grow in tightly-packed clusters making them susceptible to various diseases and rot, meaning careful monitoring and management is required.

The grapes also have thin skins and low levels of phenolic compounds—resulting in lightly colored, medium-bodied, and low tannin wines that can age unevenly and predictably. All these things considered means a good bottle of Pinot Noir is a precious find.

The World’s Most Popular Wine

Pinot Noir is the 10th most grown grape in the world and the one with the longest history and strongest heritage. It’s over 1,000 years old, and, unlike some others in this bracket—Moscato, Timorasso, Gouais Blanc—it’s not showing any signs of waning in popularity.

Today, the wine’s allure has been further reinforced by the Hollywood movie made about it called Sideways, a story about two friends that travel in search of answers to some of life’s biggest mysteries—and the perfect bottle of Pinot Noir.

This, and a trend towards more restrained, less-alcoholic wines, has made it hugely popular in the US market.

Where To Find Good Pinot Noir Wine

While grown all over the world—mostly in colder climates—the wine is typically known as one of the best outputs of the Burgundy region of France. You’ll also find it in some Italian wines like Franciacorta, and in some parts of South Africa, South Australia, and New Zealand.

Closer to home, some regions in the US have gained a world-class reputation for their Pinot Noir wines. These include Willamette Valley in Oregon, as well as the Los Carneros, Central Coast, and Russian River Valley AVAs in California. You can find hundreds of bottles of Pinot Noir at Liquor Barn.

Good Food Pairings

The great news is that Pinot Noir, with its bright acidity, complexity, and rich fruit character, goes well with just about anything you put on your plate, and even makes for a great afternoon treat, sans the food.

If you want to try something really special though, may we recommend duck breast with pomegranate and citrus glaze, garlic and herb roasted pork tenderloin, oven-baked salmon filets, or roasted mushrooms with herbs.

Cheers!