Wines of the World Cup Round 2

Italy vs New Zealand: Pinot Grigio

The competitors for Round 2

One of the reasons behind this series (comparing wines from countries participating in this summer’s FIFA soccer World Cup) is to encourage the tasting (and drinking!) of different, interesting and perhaps, unusual wines. So why, you ask, am I writing about Pinot Grigio?!

Pinot Grigio is everywhere. Even people that rarely drink wine have had a Pinot Grigio. Why? Because most of it is cheap. It’s usually the least expensive choice on a ‘by the glass’ list and is often found at under £4 on a supermarket shelf. Which means that most of the Pinot Grigio people are drinking is barely more than coloured, flavoured water. Try a Pinot Gris from Alsace, however, and you will most likely find a wine that is complex, layered and entirely delightful (it is the same grape, just in French instead of Italian).

So for the matchup of Italy vs New Zealand in Round 2 of the Wines of the World Cup, I set out optimistic of finding a couple of Pinot Grigios that would refute the belief that all PG is boring, bland and basic.

Since the majority of the more insipid examples of Pinot Grigio are under £5, I decided to see if the quality increased with the price tag, so was pleased to find both bottles at the not-too-cheap-not-too-steep price of £9.99.  Hopeful of having found two interesting wines that I could happily recommend as worthy examples of this prevalent grape, I rushed home to try them out.

Italy vs New Zealand: Pinot Grigio

The obvious colour difference between the Italian Pinot Grigio (on the left) and the pale copper hue of the one from New Zealand (on the right)

The Italian version was typically pale in colour, while the wine from New Zealand started out promisingly with a tinge of pale pink (often a sign of quality as the natural colour of the skin of the Pinot Grigio grape is very pale copper).

They were both crisp and refreshing, but hardly the wines I wanted to rave about as the perfect example of how good Pinot Grigio can be (full tasting notes below), even though they far surpassed the average, entry-level option. And while I haven’t found my new Pinot Grigio superstar, I am comforted by the fact that each one is enjoyable, and on a warm summer day (if England decides to cooperate this summer!), would even be a pleasant addition to a picnic in the park!

The wines I tasted were:

St-Michael-Eppan Pinot Grigio 2008, Alto Adige DOC, Italy (Waitrose, £9.99)

Lemons, limes and notes of pear on the nose. The palate showed green apples and a lovely mineral quality, but lacked a zesty freshness that I’m sure was there last summer. Probably best to look for the 2009 vintage.

The Ned Pinot Grigio 2009, Waihopai River, Marlborough, New Zealand (Waitrose, £9.99)

A restrained nose of ripe peaches leads to a palate of tropical fruit (passion fruit/papaya) underscored with the crispness of apple peel and a squeeze of lemon. Medium-bodied, dry and extremely easy-drinking.

My Winner: NEW ZEALAND!

Which wines would you compare between Italy and New Zealand? Have you done a comparison lately? Please let me know – I’d love to hear about it!

Next week is Round 3 of the Wines of the World Cup and I’m excited to see how Riesling from Germany fares in a head-to-head scrimmage against one from Australia!

Check out Round 1: France vs South Africa if you missed it!

There’s always time for wine!

Tara – Wine Passionista

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Leave A Reply (4 comments so far)


  1. Petra
    7 years ago

    Hi Tara,

    Naturally you would prefer the Kiwi PG to the Italian.ha!ha!
    Thoroughly enjoy your website and your professional opinion in regards to wines of the World.
    Go get em Girl.
    Love P&P Downunder.


  2. Tim
    7 years ago

    Hi Tara,

    Sorry I am a bit late replying to this post, but bhave been havuing a few connection problems in Italy..back to normal now. A difficult choice this I guess, two very different styles, but the lack of that ‘zesty freshness’ in the north Italian version possibly swung it the way of New Zealand’s south island. The Ned is always a very good expression of Pinot Gris / Grigio and it is certainly a much more up front / riper fruit style than the Alto Adige version. The Ned is also a very reliable producer of Sauvignon Blanc and is often subject to great discounts at Waitrose and also Majestic. Great to see these two do battle as there are many aweful, cheap versions, of Pinot Grigio which should be avoided like the plague.

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