Learn Your Wine: Pinot Noir

By Betchy Crocker

As we continue our examination of betchy wines, we come to Pinot Noir, which is pronounced pee-no nwarh, not peanut-nahr.


Pinot Noir wine is made from the Pinot Noir grape, which is the only grape permitted in Burgundy to produce red wine of the Côte d’Or. Growing this grape can be more difficult than getting a vintage authentic Chanel bag in Chinatown if you don’t know wtf you’re doing. That’s mostly due to thin-skins and late ripening (like that really sensitive girl who didn’t get boobs till junior year). Aside from France, the grape is grown in Oregon, California, and Australia (and other places that like, aren’t that worth mentioning).

Types and tastes:

There are a few “styles” of Pinot Noir as there are with most wines.

  • There’s the “fresh fruit” style of Pinot Noir which is kind of easy drinking (see: chugging). It presents the fruit first and has a lot of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, and currant flavors.
  • Second, we explore the “intense fruit/ripe tannins” style. This particular style has strong fruit flavors and tannins that you’ll like, notice. For this style, you may also get a bit of oak-y flavor liiiike oak, cedar, smoke, spice, and vanilla.
  • Lastly, there’s a more “elegant” style which presents more succulent fruit flavors, complexity, and refined tannins (so, not as aggressive as with the intense style). You’ll get the red fruit flavor with this one but also may notice flavors like chocolate, coffee, tobacco, and herbs.

Drink with:

Time to get classy. If you’re hosting a wine and cheese party, you will NEED a bottle of Pinot Noir on the table. If Merlot is like, the classy wine, then Pinot Noir is its seductive, artsy cousin:

  • If you have a bottle of the “fresh fruit” style of Pinot Noir, you’ll want to serve it up alongside light aperitifs and light cheese – nothing too heavy.
  • So you’ve snagged a bottle (or box, whatever) of an “intense fruit” style of Pinot Noir. You’ll want to drink that with wild game dishes sooo find someone to hunt you some quail, pheasant, or venison.
  • Lastly, if you spent big bucks and got a more complex “elegant” style of Pinot Noir, you’ll want to make sure you have salmon, pork or veal (ew) on hand.

As a note: Pinot Noirs can be kind of pricy since they’re produced in lower quantities. However, if you’re college-poor and want to find a not shitty Pinot Noir, try Cupcake’s version or Robert Mondavi Private Selection. You’re welcome.




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