Exploding heartPinot Noir is a wine of great sensuality, a silky texture and seductive aromas. “God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot Noir,” winemaker André Tchelistcheff once remarked.

This thin-skinned berry is known as the “heartbreak grape” because it’s difficult to grow and is unstable even bottled. That’s why you often pay more for Pinot Noir than most other red wines.

You’ll find my top 10 Pinot Noir reviews and ratings here,  including pinot noirs that are reasonably priced.

5 Surprising Facts about Pinot Noir:

Bouchard Pere & Fils Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir loves a cool climate where is can ripen slowly but maintain vivacious acidity. Soils of chalk and limestone that drain well make the vines work hard to survive and thus produce great wine.

The most famous region is Burgundy, France, and especially the Burgundian sub-region Côte d’Or (Slope of Gold), where famous names such as Domaine Romanee-Conti and Laflaive grace labels.

The character Miles in the hit 2004 movie Sideways discusses the virtues of Pinot Noir with Maya. He considers it the antithesis of plummy Merlot that can lack acidity.

Pinot Noir is now one of the fastest growing red wines in North America, thanks to this commercial boost. This is also due to its purported health benefits because the grapes must work hard to protect themselves from disease and rot in cool climates and therefore produce more anti-oxidants, up to four times more resveratrol than other wines.

Among the oldest of grapes grown to make wine by the ancient Romans, Pinot Noir now thrives in many regions such as AustMomo Pinot Noir 3ria and Germany (in both regions known as Spätburgunder), Niagara, Okanagan Valley, Italy (Pinot Nero), New Zealand, Switzerland (Dole), Oregon and California’s cooler regions such as Carneros, Russian River Valley and Anderson Valley in the Sonoma Valley, Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County) and Monterey County.

Aromas include strawberries, cherries, black cherries, raspberries, violets, cinnamon, sassafras, mushrooms, truffles, rose petal, fresh earth and something called “barnyard,” which is actually meant to be a positive descriptor though not everyone agrees with that. Sometimes, this means fresh earth as you would find on a farm, but it can also refer to bacterial spoilage called Brettanomyces.

Pinot Noir pairs with a wide variety of dishes because it is flavorful but not heavy in alcohol, oak or tannin. The best matches include prime rib, roast beef, brisket, turkey, pork tenderloin, mushroom and truffle dishes, coq au vin (chicken cooked in red wine), beef bourguignonne (beef cooked in red wine), grilled salmon, cassoulet, roasted and braised lamb, pheasant, duck, shark, swordfish and tuna with rosemary.

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