Gris or Grigio? What’s the difference? Although synonyms for the same grape, the terms Gris and Grigio have come to describe two different styles of wine. “Gris,” French for grey, tends to describe the fuller-bodied, spicy white wines from regions such as Alsace in France. “Grigio,” Italian for grey, describes the lighter, crisper whites that come from regions such as Friuli in Northern Italy.
The grape itself, although predominantly produced as a white wine, has a pinkish colour to it. Thus wines that have been made with some level of skin contact, often have a light blush to them, almost like Rosé. For wines labelled Gris, the grapes are usually harvested later, allowing more ripeness and therefore lower acidity, fuller-body and higher alcohol. These wines are typically fruit-driven with a richer palate and a distinct spiciness.
In comparison, wines labelled Grigio, are made after the Northern Italian style, and picked much earlier, thus retaining acidity and structure. These wines tend to be much drier and crisper, with flavours of green apple and pear.