Is Pinot Grigio a Good Wine?

Is Pinot Grigio a Good Wine?

When you think of Italian white wine, pinot grigio likely comes to mind. That said– there’s a world in which pinot grigio doesn’t exist any longer. That’s a world we all should look forward to. Pinot grigio has monopolized the easy-drinking white wine market for too long.

Good news: Italy is full of white grapes that you may have never heard of, but fill the same purpose pinot grigio does. They are inexpensive, thirst quenching, and go with any food you can imagine yourself eating with your toes in the sea. These are wines to just drink.

Here are our favorite Italian white wines that fulfill your pinot grigio cravings but are just a little bit more interesting. We have pinot grigio cravings too.

9 Wines to Drink Instead of Pinot Grigio

Ciro Picariello, Fiano d'Avellino '906' 2019

In the mountains off the Amalfi Coast, Ciro Picariello hand harvests local grape varieties to make some of our favorite white wines in Italy. His greco and standard bottling of fiano are salty and refreshing, but it’s his 906 that we go out of our way to stock up on whenever we can. Only made in years when the conditions are just right, the 906 comes from his oldest, highest-elevation vines. It’s a fantastic value-alternative to Chablis.

Ronco del Gnemiz, Friulano San Zuan 2019

In Friuli, a small glass of friulano is traditionally enjoyed alongside thin slices of prosciutto before dinner. The wine tastes like perfectly ripe melon, which explains its affinity for salty ham. This crisp-yet-rich white wine will flatter any charcuterie board, and you can drink it a large glass, not a small one.

Benanti, Etna Bianco 2020

Sicily is a large island at the southern tip of Italy where literal truckloads of wine is made. Still today, the majority of wine made here is unremarkable and consumed locally or shipped off in bulk. However, in the northwestern corner of the island, there is an active volcano called Mount Etna. It’s an astonishing place that pops up out of the sea. It is also home to one of our favorite Italian white grapes, Carricante. Carricante (Car-E-Cant-eh) produces the wines called “Etna Bianco” or the White of Etna. This is a grape that has only grown on the volcano and until 15-20 years ago no one cared about. Although we recommend drinking these wines young and in copious amounts, they also tend to age well so if you see a version on a menu with a couple of years, don't be afraid.

Marina Coppi, 'Marine' Favorita Colli Tortonesi 2015

Favorita is a rare Italian grape from Piedmont that makes rich but not oaky white wine with full but still crisp flavors of honey pear. Marina Coppi makes our favorite.

Cirelli, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2019

Cirelli is not just a winery. On their many acres of organic land in Abruzzo they press olive oil, grow fruits and vegetables, and raise cattle too. But their wine is great. This bottle is crisp, lemony, and a little salty. It makes sense after a long day if you were doing all that work, too.

I Vigneri, 'Aurora' Etna Bianco 2019

Even though this bottle doesn't say Etna Bianco on its label, it is that. Etna Bianco is a white wine made on the active volcano Mount Etna in Sicily; wines made here are usually salty, smoky, and crisp. Winemaker Salvo Foti farms his vineyards like a garden, meticulous and thoughtful in every decision. The result is an easy-drinking summer wine.

Punta Crena, 'Vigneto Reiné' Mataòssu Liguria 2019

This dry white wine is made from a grape called Mataòssu, which isn’t grown outside of Liguria, let alone outside of the Punta Crena vineyards. Like most coastal Italian white wines, it’s refreshing and salty thanks to constant sea-breezes from the Mediterranean. Mataòssu here grows on 90+ year old vines, leading to particularly concentrated, aromatic wines. Those wines have been made by the same family for more than 500 years, with very little changing about their winemaking practices to this day. They continue to make appealing wines in an even more appealing place– the hills overlooking the Italian Riviera.

Guido Marsella, Fiano di Avellino 2018

Campania is the Southern Italian state where you have the areas of Amalfi and Napoli. Amalfi is the stretch of the Mediterranean you’ll see on Instagram all summer long. It’s dramatic and beautiful. Napoli is the home of pizza which trumps Amalfi purely based on that. In Campania, there are a couple of wine regions that are important. They are nestled away from the coast and into the mountains which are east of the beaches. This one is made with Fiano d’Avellino. It's crisp, floral, and salty.

Vignai da Duline, 'Chioma Integrale' Malvasia 2019

About a 10-minute drive from the Slovenian border in northeastern Italy, Vignai da Duline produces various types of natural wines, including this one made from malvasia grapes. Like lots of Italian white wines, it’s about as refreshing as a misting fan filled with saltwater, but it also has enough body and complexity to be a solid alternative to Loire chenin blanc.

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