Pinot Noir is, without a doubt, the most romanticized red wine in the world. No other grape brings out such emotion and devout worship among its enthusiasts. Festivals are thrown every year in the grape’s honor and an entire movie, Sideways, was devoted to the passion the wine stirs in people. Sideways has had such a cultural impact in the US that it has single-handedly both elevated the profile of the grape and also done it harm, as it’s caused many casual wine drinkers to associate Pinot Noir with wine snobs.
One of the reasons the Pinot Noir grape elicits such devotion is because it’s really hard to grow, which results in a great bottle of Pinot Noir being a rare find. Discovering a great Pinot Noir becomes an obsession, as the movie depicts, and those passionate about the wine love to talk about their discoveries with other passionate Pinot drinkers.
This devotion can cause Pinot Noir champions to be a little insulting to other wine drinkers, feeling the need to convince those drinking anything other than Pinot why Pinot Noir is the best wine out there. In the movie this behavior is exhibited by Paul Giamatti’s character who insists on insulting anyone who drinks Merlot. Giamatti’s actions remind us of an indie rock fan trying to convince a music listener to give up Billy Joel and listen to Radiohead instead. Some Pinot drinkers are so passionate that they fail to realize that all the varieties of wine have something to offer, just as Billy Joel can be great in some situations, and Radiohead in others.
A good Pinot Noir is one of the safest red wines, along with Merlot, to serve to a big group of people.
However, we shouldn’t avoid drinking Pinot Noir just because the Pinot obsessives have given the wine a bit of a snobby rap! Pinot Noir can be really fantastic and goes well with every occasion; it’s a crowd pleaser that anyone in the room will enjoy.
Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France, and it’s in Burgundy where the best Pinot Noir is still produced. Like many other regions of France, Pinot Noir producers do not refer to their Pinot Noir wine as Pinot Noir, but instead call it red Burgundy, after the region where it’s made. The wines from Burgundy have flavors of ripe red berries, sweet black cherries, mushrooms and what sommeliers call forest floor, that smell you get from freshly fallen damp leaves.
That said, while wonderful, red Burgundies can be quite expensive. Due to the priciness of most red Burgundies, over the past century, producers around the world began to try to growing the grape. Today great and affordable Pinot Noir can be found in California, Oregon, Australia, Chile and New Zealand. Pinots from these regions tend to be bigger and richer in flavor, tasting fruitier than the Pinots from France.
Pinot Noir is a wine that goes well with all types of food, and is even light enough in alcohol to be drunk on its own. So enjoy a Pinot Noir soon – just don’t be a snob about it!