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Pinot Noir

by Staff Writer - B. Scottenberg | July 08, 2011

Pinot Noir is a light to moderate red wine that matches well with many foods. The color ranges from light red to a medium dark red color. Pinot Noir has aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry, and occasionally hints of spice, and sometimes earthy flavors like that of mushrooms.

Pinot Noir grows best in cool climate regions. Fog and cool ocean breezes are good for Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir grape requires a cooler climate because it buds, as well as ripens early. The early budding makes it especially vulnerable to spring frosts, and the early ripening, to fall rains. Because the Pinot Noir grapes grow in tightly packed bunches, they can be susceptible to rot. The final problem in the vineyard is that the Pinot Noir varietal's yields are low. The Pinot Noir grape is also the main grape used in much of Burgundy wine. Pinots have a very large family tree. The Pinot vine can easily mutate to produce new offspring, including both red and white. Some of the more familiar Pinots are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Meunier.

Pinot Noir is also one of the more difficult wines to ferment. With the presence of 18 amino acids, which are naturally balanced in this grape variety, Pinot Noir ferments aggressively, and it will often boil up and out of its container, creating and out of control process. Color retention is also a major problem for the thin-skinned Pinot Noir berries. Pinot Noir is very prone to acetification (the act of making acetous or sour; the process of converting, or of becoming converted, into vinegar) and often loses the sometimes promising aromas and flavors it seems to display through fermentation and aging as soon as it is bottled.

One of the components that are naturally rich in Pinot Noir is resveratrol. Compared to other varieties, the resveratrol in Pinot Noir is three to four times higher, especially when the Pinot Noir is grown in cooler, more humid climates. This will catch the attention of those health conscious consumers.

Beginning in the early 1990s, Pinot Noir began to be grown in larger quantities in California, Oregon, Australia and New Zealand. The cooler climate that is required for the Pinot Noir grapes to succeed can be found in these locations. It is known as an extremely difficult grape to grow and to make into wine so location is extremely important for its success.

Because Pinot Noir can be a challenge to both growers and winemakers, this means a good Pinot Noir can be pricey. Pinot Noir is a wine that really benefits from some breathing time. After pouring a small amount, let the bottle come to room temperature and breathe for about an hour for the bouquet to blossom and for the flavors to develop.

Food Pairings

Pinot Noirs pair well with salmon, lamb, chicken, ham, pork, pasta with red sauce, or lighter beef dishes. Pinot Noir also goes well with any local game or goose. Pinot Noir should be served at cellar temperature, which is between 58 to 62 degrees. While some Pinot Noirs are meant to be drunk immediately, a fine Pinot Noir can easily age for 10 years or more.

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