Newcomers tend to latch onto grape varieties like pinot grigio as if wine were like ice cream flavors, where the name pegs how the product will taste. Grapes seem to offer a clear-cut way to decode wine, but they are fundamentally misleading. Navigating a wine solely by grape doesn’t take into account how environmental factors in the vineyard or actions taken by the winemaker will shape a given wine’s flavor, both of which can trump the type of grape used. Like different varieties of apples or oranges, wine grapes do taste slightly different from one another, of course.
Unlike those fruits, though, grapes have a much wider range of acceptable ripeness. Ripeness is driven mainly by climate, meaning how much sun and warmth a vine is exposed, but also by the winemaker’s decision of how long to wait before picking the grapes. Varying levels of ripeness in the grapes can lead wines to taste quite different even if the same basic winemaking processes are applied by the vintner.
Take this Argentine pinot grigio, for example. From the grape name on the label, one would be correct to assume it is made in a dry, unoaked style. However, it is not as lightweight or tangy as those made in northern Italy, and fans of the European version won’t find the flavors to be as crisp, refreshing, or apple-like. Instead, this wine is noticeably weightier and less tart due to the warmer, drier climate in which it is grown in Argentina. More sunshine doesn’t just boost this wine’s alcohol content, but it also yields flavors that resemble less acidic fruits like cantaloupe, apricot, or ripe banana.
$8.99; 13% alcohol
PLCB Item #3421
Sale price through Jan. 31 — regularly $11.99
Also available at these New Jersey stores:
Super Buy Rite in Williamstown and West Deptford- $8.99
Hops & Grapes in Glassboro — $10.95
Traino’s Wine & Spirits in Mount Laurel and Voorhees- $13.99