Pinot Blanc is a wine that could be called a freak of nature, yet this crisp and refreshing wine is far from an accident. Created as a genetic mutation of its sibling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc is a dry or medium-dry wine grown almost exclusively in the Alsace region of France and northern Italy and in lesser quantities in Germany, Oregon and California. In France, Pinot Blanc is often blended with Klevner or Auxerrois to create an everyday wine; in Italy, Pinot Blanc is its own entity, just with a slight name change to Pinot Bianco.
If you love Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc is destined to become your next favorite. What separates it from Chardonnay and the rest of white wines is that it actually uses red wine grapes (the result of the genetic mutation), resulting in a richer flavor. Lemon, pear, baked apple and orange zest highlight the mildly fruity flavor of Pinot Blanc, finished with honey, ginger and almond.
Pinot Blanc can come oaked or unoaked, with each providing an interesting flavor spectrum. American wineries in Oregon and California are far more likely to barrel-age their versions, resulting in a buttery crème brûlée type of flavor. Unoaked Pinot Blanc is far more common in France and Italy, giving it more acidity, but a lighter body.
Because it is the result of a genetic mutation, Pinot Blanc is one of the most underrepresented wines across the world and difficult to find. If you manage to slap your hands on a bottle of it, make sure to take it home with you. It works wonderfully as a social wine, neither too dry nor too sweet, and able to fit most palates.
This neutral flavoring also gives it clout in the food realm, pairing with white meats such as poultry and fish, as well as cream-based and mushroom-based dishes, soups and sauces.
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