Food & DrinkJK Wine

How to Venture Out of Your Pinot Grigio Bubble

We don't need eight bottles of pinot grigio

A selection of eight pinot grigio bottles takes up a full shelf at Rhino Market.
Nothing wrong with pinot grigio, but sometimes it can be a little much. (Photo by Kara Daly)

There are around 4,000 types of wine grapes in the world, and likely many more that we haven’t identified. How many can you name? 

Cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot grigio … how many have you had? As lovers of wine, we want to try them all, to be honest. It’s a big task, one that requires not only an adventurous spirit but also access to wines beyond the common and conventional choices. 

Wandering through the wine selection of Rhino Market in Villa Heights, we found an entire shelf devoted to pinot grigio. Then we found ourselves asking aloud: “Why do we need eight bottles of pinot grigio?” 

As a wine buyer and a bartender, we actually know the answer to this question: Rhino Market is simply meeting the demand of its clientele. And as part of that clientele, we are here to implore you to start wanting more for yourself.

Don’t get us wrong; we’re not looking to start an anti-pinot movement. If anything, we’d like to see the quality of what’s imported improve. The neutral wine you know to taste like lemon and smell like air can actually be quite complex minerally — and dare we say magical? 

So our objective here is to give you a few more options. We kept wandering the white wine aisle of Rhino Market and found more bottles that, if you love pinot grigio, you’ll want to give a try and will likely fall head over heels for.  

Here are our pinot pivots … our love-at-first-sips … our list of must-try wines for pinot grigio lovers. 

Villa Sparina Gavi

If what you love about pinot grigio is its mellow, neutral, and agreeable nature, then you should have Gavi on your radar. Gavi is a municipality of the Piemonte region in Italy, as Charlotte is a municipality in North Carolina’s Piedmont region (hyperlocal for the win!) and its white wines are dry, minerally, and refreshing. 

Ischia Biancolella 

The Ischia Biancolella is a treat. We’re still in Italy, but moving south to Campania, where excellent white wines that no one knows about abound. If you’re up for popping a couple Dramamine and getting on a ferry to the island of Ischia, where biancolella grapevines grow on volcanic soils, you’ll find weighty white wines with tropical fruit and flowers.

Or you could just go to Rhino Market and buy a bottle. 

Santorini Cuvee Monsignori

Let’s go island hopping. Next up, Santorini, Greece! Volcanic soils here also make for a crisp wine with lively acidity, like the Santorini Cuvee Monsignori. This wine is made with Assyrtiko, a grape native to the island that has adapted well to the ever-warming climate. The wines are racy, food-friendly and refreshing. 

Rodaro Friulano 

A pro-tip for venturing out of your comfort zone in the wine aisle: Look for more wines within that region, regardless of style. You’re likely to find at least one or two new favorites this way. The Rodaro Friulano comes from the same region as our famed pinot grigio: Friulli-Venezia Giulia in northern Italy. Friulano is also indigenous to the region and was the leading grape in the area in the early-21st century. 

Herman Moser Grüner Veltliner 

You may have heard about the grape behind this bottle of Austrian wine: grüner veltliner. Grüner is indigenous to Austria and makes a crowd-pleasing white wine thanks to its agreeable flavor profile. Gather around your pasta salad, Mediterranean food and herbaceous meals for this lip-smacking, citrusy wine. 

How to find more wines like Pinot Grigio

If you love pinot grigio, you love an approachable, neutral white wine with high acidity. When you’re out and about in Charlotte’s food scene, you might consider telling your sommeliers, bartenders and wine-loving waitstaff what you love about pinot grigio and ask for what they would recommend that’s different. There are tons of gems hiding throughout this town; go forth and be quaffed.

Check out Jerry and Kara’s past JK Wine columns here.

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