After Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio is the second most popular white wine variety in the U.S. When it was first introduced in 1979, its simple, refreshing style succeeded as an uncomplicated alternative to full-bodied, buttery whites — the type that coined the infamous acronym “ABC,” or “Anything but Chardonnay.”
Pinot Grigio is the better-recognized Italian name for white French variety Pinot Gris. The grape is said to have first arrived in Italy’s northwestern Piemonte region in the 19th century, but nowadays thrives in the country’s northeastern regions like Friuli, Alto Adige, and Veneto.
Notable producers of high-quality Pinot Grigio are located on the slopes of Friuli and Alto Adige, though the vast majority of what is exported and consumed worldwide is grown on expansive Veneto lowland flats. With high yields and lower concentrations, these grapes produce lighter, more neutral wines than those made with high-quality grapes.
Nowadays, Pinot Grigio faces stiff competition from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — which is equally refreshing but more aromatic and flavorful — yet it remains a well-liked, quaffable white wine. Leading the way are these, the 10 most popular Pinot Grigio brands in the world, according to search frequency data collected by Wine-Searcher.com.
The only non-Italian producer on this list, Canyon Road is a California winery owned by family-run drinks conglomerate E. & J. Gallo. The winery is known for its affordability, and most of its bottles retail for less than $10. With a warmer climate than Italy, California Pinot Grigio has a fuller-bodied style with more tropical fruit notes.
The Pighin estate is owned by husband-and-wife duo Fernando and Danila Pighin. Their wines’ grapes are grown in the Friuli Grave DOC subregion, named after the gravelly soils in which the vines are planted. The Pighin Pinot Grigio is vinified and aged in stainless steel to maintain its fresh fruit and floral character.
Voga Italia is a modern Italian brand known for its interesting bottle shapes and resealable caps. The delle Venezie IGT region in which its Pinot Grigio is produced is possibly the nation’s most-famous for the variety, with seven out of every 10 bottles of wine produced here made from the gray grapes.
A bocce ball’s throw from the Italian-Slovenian border, Livio Felluga is a family-run winery, famed for its whites. Most popular of all is its Pinot Grigio, which offers a generous mix of fruit aromas and flavors, as well as savory notes.
With its screw cap and colorful label design, KRIS Pinot Grigio is another delle Venezia-based winery taking a modern approach to packaging. In its tasting notes, KRIS claims the wine, too, is “bursting with colorful aromas and flavors.”
Made using the “Ramato” method, which involves a period of skin contact during vinification — 48 hours in this case — the Specogna Pinot Grigio has a light pink color with copper highlights. This style of winemaking, along with a small percentage of the wine that receives barrel aging, heavily influences its character, adding a complexity uncommon to many Pinot Grigios at this price point.
In 1888, Austrian-born Anton Jermann founded his eponymous winery in Italy’s northeastern Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Jermann’s great-grandson Silvio is now in control of winemaking, electing partial-skin-contact vinification for this Pinot Grigio, which adds some oomph to the mouthfeel. Stainless steel aging is then used to maintain the wine’s fruit freshness.
There’s a large chance this list wouldn’t exist without Santa Margherita. The Alto Adige winery is credited with creating the light, easy-drinking style of Pinot Grigio that now dominates the global market. The Valdadige Pinot Grigio is the first of two of the brand’s wines in the top three, proving Santa Margherita is every bit as popular as it is pioneering.
Though perhaps better known for its red Amarone della Valpolicella wines, Zenato also produces the world’s second most popular Pinot Grigio. Made from grapes grown in the Pinot Grigio heartland of delle Venezie IGT, this wine is affordable and accessible, dominated by fresh citrus and green fruit aromas and flavors.
Santa Margherita’s iconic Alto Adige Pinot Grigio revolutionized the way producers viewed the grape and the styles of wine it could produce. Previously, wines were made in the traditional French Pinot Gris style: pale pink, fuller-bodied, richer, and spicier. Thanks to minimal skin contact and low-temperature, prolonged fermentation, winemakers were able to produce lighter, crisp, easy-drinking white wines. The style continues to be a hit, in Italy and worldwide.