What is Pinot Noir?
Why is Pinot Noir so special? The most romanticized red wine anywhere in the world Pinot Noir, is without a doubt. No other grape brings out such emotion and worship among its enthusiasts.
Every year entire festivals are thrown in honour of Pinot Noir and there is even a Hollywood movie, called ‘Sideways.’ devoted entirely to it. Alexander Payne’s film Sideways explains the story of two washed up and disillusioned men, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara wine country to unwind and who begin to reflect on their younger years and trepidations about the future. What unfolds is a charming irony surrounding the life of a protagonist, who has reached middle age being very set in his ways but has climbed to no success and the passion that stirs among wine enthusiast. Where to age wine properly you have to lay the bottles on their sides so the cork stays.
We consumers love it.
While those in the wine industry trumpet that Pinot Noir should be appreciated with the utmost respect, we shouldn’t avoid drinking Pinot Noir just because the Pinot obsessives have given the wine a bit of a snobby rap! Pinot Noir can be really fantastic and goes well with every occasion; it’s a crowd pleaser that anyone in the room will enjoy.
One of the reasons the Pinot Noir grape elicits such devotion is because it’s really hard to grow, which results in a great bottle of Pinot Noir being a rare find. Discovering a great Pinot Noir becomes an obsession, as the movie Sideways depicts, and those passionate about the wine love to talk about their discoveries with other passionate Pinot drinkers. Very common these days, are Pinot Noir clubs, either by Wine Merchants or among friends, who boast and share their exclusive Pinot’s from all corners of the world.
A good Pinot Noir is one of the safest red wines, along with Cabernet and Merlot, to serve to a big group of people.
Pinot noir is a light to medium body, medium-dry red wine that is typically fruit-forward. When tasting, you’re greeted with an earthy, herbal and spicy nose. Flavors of dark cherries, red currants, and berries are common, along with notes of mushroom and soil.
Pinot noir is considered a dry wine, which means it tends to be less sweet due to a lack of leftover sugar, or “residual sugar,” after fermentation.
Named after the Pine Cone:
Bunches or clusters of Pinot Noir grapes resemble a pine cone, due to the tightly packed appearance. Early French winemakers took note of this shape and started to call it Pinot (a term that means “shape of a pine cone”). The word Noir is the French for Black. So, Pinot Noir means – Black Pine Cone.
Pinot Noir Origins
Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France, and it’s in Burgundy where the best Pinot Noir is still produced. Like many other regions of France, Pinot Noir producers do not refer to their Pinot Noir wine as Pinot Noir, but instead call it red Burgundy, after the region where it’s made. The wines from Burgundy have flavors of ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and what sommeliers call forest floor, that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves.
Pinor Noir is one of the grapes, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier that you’ll find in most Champagnes.
That said, while wonderful, red Burgundies can be quite expensive. Due to the priciness of most red Burgundies, over the past century, producers around the world began to try to growing the grape.
Location, location, location
Today great and affordable Pinot Noir can be found in:
- New Zealand,
- Germany, and
Pinots’ from these regions tend to be bigger and richer in flavor, tasting fruitier than the Pinots’ from France.
What glass should I use to drink a Pinot Noir?
A thin-rimmed wine glass will allow the Pinot Noir to slip smoothly onto your tongue. (They also tend to look more refined.) Pinot Noir taste is focused on a range of things, from the wine’s body, tannins, acidity, dryness and refinement.
What should I eat with Pinot Noir?
Pinor Noir is an incredibly versatile wine and goes with all type of food, and is light enough in alcohol to be drank on it own – just don’t be a snob about it.
Being a light red, it goes will with lighters meat and pasta dishes. Some of our favourite pairings include: baked chicken, roast turkey and spaghetti bolognese . Fruit-forward Pinot Noir go best with fatty fish dishes, such as barramundi and salmon. Larger, more tannic Pinots marry well with duck and other game birds, casseroles or else, stews like beef bourguignon. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it.
HACK: If you happen to score a delicious Pinot Noir under $30USD – keep it a secret because of the difficulty to grow premium quality Pinor Noir at such a low cost.
Frequently asked Pinot Noir questions
Why is the move called Sideways?
The movie is a metaphor for the life of the protagonist, who has reached middle age and is very set in his ways but has climbed to no success. Likewise, to age wine properly you have to lay the bottles on their sides so the cork stays wet.
Sideways has had such a cultural impact in the US that it has single-handedly both elevated the profile of the grape and also done it harm. It’s caused many casual wine drinkers to associate Pinot Noir with wine snobs. The grape Merlot, on the other hand was given a bad rap as a wine that only rookies and ‘know-nothings’ will drink, being the but of modern jokes in the Western wine market.
What is Red Burgundy?
Red Burgundy is wine that is made in the Burgundy region of eastern France using 100% Pinot Noir grapes. That’s right, red Burgundy is just a Pinot Noir. White Burgundy is also made in Burgundy, but, since it is white, it is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes.
What is the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold?
Check out: The most expensive wine ever sold.
It turns out it isn’t just brown spirits having all the fun. At a Sotheby’s auction in New York the record for the most expensive wine ever, was sold.
A bottle of 1945 Romanee-Conti, a red Burgundy from Cote de Nuits, sold for an astounding $558,000. Though Romanee-Conti is a renowned producer to this day, this particular wine is especially coveted because reportedly only 600 bottles were produced in 1945, and the vines were removed and replanted after this vintage. “Rare and wonderful,” Serena Sutcliffe, head of Sotheby’s international wine department, wrote on the auction site. “The best bottles are so concentrated and exotic, with seemingly everlasting power—a wine at peace with itself.”
If half-a-million dollars for a bottle of wine seems surprising, you’re not alone. Sotheby’s presale estimate for the vino put the top of the range at $32,000. The wine sold for 17 times that amount. And the run wasn’t over: Later, a second bottle from the same vintage sold for $496,000. Both bottles easily broke the record for the most expensive standard-sized bottle of wine ever sold—a title previously held by a bottle from Chateau Lafite Rothschild sold for $233,000 in 2010 in Hong Kong. Even more amazingly, these two bottles also broke the record for the most expensive bottle of wine sold of any size, which belonged to a three-liter bottle of 1945 Mouton-Rothschild that sold in New York in 2007 for $310,000, according to Newsweek.
Meanwhile, adding to all the excitement, three magnums of 1937 Romanee-Conti also sold for $310,000 apiece, each also rivaling the price for the most expensive bottle of any size. In all, Quartz suggested that this single auction included the five most expensive bottles of wine ever sold all in one place. Sounds like a fun dinner party waiting to happen.
Is Pinot Noir the same as Burgundy?
Pinot Noir is both the name of a red wine grape, and the wines made from this grape. Burgundy is the name of a wine region in France, and refers to the wines made from this region. Apologies for the confusion. And yes, there’s many pinot noirs coming out of Burgundy.
HACK: It is frowned upon to use the term “Burgundy” to describe a wine made from anywhere but Burgundy.