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July 18, 2023

Who Delivers? The Grenache vs Pinot Debate

For centuries, Pinot and Grenache grapes have been the subject of winemaking debate and enjoyment. But what exactly sets these two popular varieties apart from each other, and which variety can we trust to deliver as the world around us changes at a rapid pace? From taste to appearance to consistency, join us as we delve into the distinct differences between Pinot and Grenache grapes.

From the start of wine being made, place can play a significantly larger role in the magic that happens in the bottle then the process. The climate, soil, and growing conditions in a particular region have a significant impact on the quality and flavor profile of the grapes grown there. For example, grapes grown in cool climates, such as Burgundy in France, tend to produce lighter-bodied wines with subtle notes of fruit, while grapes grown in warmer climates, such as northern Spain, produce full-bodied wines with bold fruit flavors.

However, the current changing climate is having a significant impact on the quality and production of grapes used for winemaking. Extreme weather patterns, such as prolonged droughts and heat waves, are causing stress to the vines and affecting the quality of the grapes. In some regions, winemakers are even having to change the types of grapes they grow to adapt to the changing climate conditions. Global warming at its finest? Despite these challenges, winemakers are still able to produce great wine through the labor of love (carefully managing the growing conditions and utilizing new techniques.) For example, many winemakers are turning to sustainable practices, such as water conservation and soil management, to minimize the impact of the changing climate on their vines. Additionally, winemakers are experimenting with new grape varieties that are more tolerant of extreme weather patterns, such as drought-resistant strains of Grenache and Pinot grapes.

Pinot and Grenache are similar grapes but still can create distinctly different end-results. Pinot is known for its delicate and complex flavor profile, with subtle hints of red fruits, earthy and spicy notes, and a silky texture. Grenache, on the other hand, is known for its bold, fruit-forward flavor profile, with prominent notes of red and dark fruits, spices, and a warm, full-bodied texture. While both grapes are highly valued for their distinctive qualities, there are several key differences between Pinot and Grenache. Pinot grapes are primarily grown in cooler climates, such as Burgundy in France, and the Willamette Valley in Oregon. This is due to the delicate nature of Pinot grapes, which are characterized by a thin skin, sensitivity to soil conditions, and high acidity. As a result, these sensitive Sallys are  typically more expensive and harder to find than Grenache wines.

In contrast to the sensitive Pinot, Grenache grapes are the shoulder you can consistently lean on. These grapes are known for their ability to adapt to a wide range of climates and soils, and are relatively easy to grow. This makes Grenache wines more widely available and often more affordable than Pinot wines. Additionally, Grenache wines are known for their high alcohol content, which is often due to the warm climates in which the grapes are grown such as the southern Rhône region of France. The chemical structure of Grenache grapes is characterized by a thicker skin and lower acidity, which results in a full-bodied wine with bold notes of red and dark fruits, spices, and a warm, velvety texture. This truly is the grape that is going to weather the storm with you.




Flavor Profile

Common flavor notes include red and dark fruits (such as cherry, raspberry, and blackberry), earthy and floral notes, and spices. Known for its fruity and spicy flavors, with notes of red fruits (such as raspberry and strawberry), plum, black cherry, and black pepper.


Pinot grapes produce red wines with a light to medium color intensity, ranging from pale ruby to deep garnet. Grenache is a red grape variety, producing light to medium-bodied wines with a bright, transparent color ranging from pink to deep red.


Pinot wines are known for their light to medium body and delicate, silky texture. They have moderate to low tannins and moderate alcohol content. Grenache wines are typically light to medium-bodied, with moderate to high alcohol content and soft tannins, giving them a smooth, velvety texture.


Characterized by aromas of red and dark fruits, earthy and floral notes (such as rose, violets, and forest floor), and sometimes spices or hints of herbs. Characterized by aromas of red and dark fruits, spices, and sometimes hints of floral or herbal scents.


Pinot grapes have high acidity, contributing to their bright, crisp, and refreshing character. Grenache has a moderate acidity level, contributing to its fresh and juicy flavor profile.


Pinot wines have soft, silky tannins, providing a gentle structure to the wine. Grenache wines have soft tannins, providing a gentle structure and roundness to the wine.


Wrapping up with a more positive note, these differences are contrasted by the many similarities that Pinot and Grenache grapes have. Both grapes are known for their versatility and are used in a variety of wine styles, from light and refreshing rosé wines to rich and full-bodied red wines. They are valued in the wine world for their complex flavor profiles and are often blended with other grape varieties to create thousands of unique and well-rounded varietal combinations.

Eric Solomon often says “Grenache Delivers what Pinot Promises.” This phrase reflects the idea that while Pinot wines are often sought after for their delicate and nuanced flavor profile, they can be disappointing if not grown in ideal conditions or if not made by an experienced winemaker. On the other hand, Grenache wines are consistently bold, fruit-forward, and full-bodied, delivering the rich and complex flavor profile that Pinot wines promise year after year.

In our humble opinion, Grenache grapes are often considered to be better for winemaking than Pinot grapes due to their versatility, affordability, and consistent flavor profile. While both grapes are highly valued for their unique qualities, Grenache delivers a bold and fruit-forward flavor profile that Pinot sometimes struggles to achieve. As a result, Grenache wines are a great option for those looking for a rich and complex wine that delivers on its promises. All this being said, our producers make all of their wines with bountiful thought and precision and their Pinot and Grenache varieties reflect that care! Try and compare some of our favorite pinot and grenache wines in our portfolio and let us know which varietal is your favorite. We promise you’ll find something you love.

Our Favorite Pinot Wines

Our Favorite Grenache Wines


Post by Debbie Antoszyk