Pinot Noir: Here’s Everything you Need to Know

24 Aug, 2022
Sarah Idle
Sarah Idle
Editor, Co-Founder
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Whatever burning question about pinot noir you’ve got - what it is, what it tastes like, what colour it is, how to serve it, the best pinot noir wine regions, even how to pronounce it - we’ve got the answer.

Whatever social media makes you believe, hobbies don’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or particularly tricky - let’s normalise sitting on the couch catching up with your favourite show as a hobby ok? If you’re wondering what else can count as a hobby, pop ‘upskilling yourself with wine knowledge’ on the list. Start here - we’ll take you through everything you need to know about pinot noir. You can thank us next time you confidently order a glass of pinot noir at a bar or ace that pub quiz. 

What is pinot noir?

Pinot noir is a type of wine. It’s made from (no surprises here) pinot noir grapes. Pinot noir grapes are red-skinned but don’t let that fool you. Although pinot noir is a dry red wine, it can also be a rosé wine and a fairly rare white wine. Pinot noir is also 1 of the 3 official grapes of champagne, alongside chardonnay and pinot meunier.

Although pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, especially in France, the USA and Germany, they’re actually really difficult grapes to grow. They just need the right amount of sunshine, heat and rain. Too much or too little of any of those and the grapes can rot, grow mould or simply not flourish.

How is pinot noir pronounced?

Pinot noir is derived from the French words for pine (pinot) and black (noir). Pine / pinot refers to the fact that the grapes grow in pine cone-shaped clusters. Black / noir refers to the dark hue of the grapes.

You pronounce it like pee-no nwar. (Looks funny written down, but try saying it out loud!) 

What does pinot noir taste like?

The taste of pinot noir really depends on a lot of things including:

  • Where the pinot noir grapes are grown.
  • What the terroir (fancy way of saying the natural environment the wine is made in, including the soil) is like, especially the weather.
  • The winemaking techniques used.
  • How the wine is aged, like French oak barrels or stainless steel vats.
  • Whether it’s organic or natural.

Generally, pinot noir tastes of:

  • Dark red fruit, especially cherry and raspberry.
  • Savoury flavours like mushroom and the forest floor.
  • Cloves and spices.

What colour is pinot noir?

Pinot noir grapes themselves are a dark colour. Thin-skinned, they’re quite translucent and can appear dark red, deep blue or purple, or black. Pinot noir the wine is most commonly red. But it can also be white or rosé coloured.

How to serve pinot noir

The ideal pinot noir serving temperature depends on the wine type. Pinot noir red should be served  just cooler than room temperature (that's between 55℉ and 60℉ / 13℃ and 15.5℃). Pinot noir rosé should be served cooler than that (50℉ / 10℃) and pinot noir sparkling even cooler than that (between 40℉ and 45℉ / 4℃ and 7℃).

As such a versatile grape (c’mon - it can be red, white, rosé and sparkling!), pairing it with food is easy - you can serve it with pretty much any food you fancy. It goes especially well with mushrooms, cheese and meat.

Best pinot noir wine regions

As one of the world’s most popular wines, you’re spoilt for choice with pinot noir wine regions. Some of the best are:

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