Pinot Noir

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Pinot Noir is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine. It’s loved for its red fruit, flower, and spice aromas that are accentuated by a long, smooth finish.

Primary Flavors

  • Cherry
  • Raspberry
  • Mushroom
  • Clove
  • Hibiscus

Taste Profile


Medium Body

Low Tannins

Medium-high Acidity

11.5–13.5% ABV


    55–60°F / 12-15°C

    Aroma Collector

    30 Minutes

    10+ Years

Food Pairing

A very versatile food pairing wine given it’s higher high acidity and lower tannin. Pinot Noir pairs particularly well with duck, chicken, pork, and mushrooms.

Pinot Noir wine Taste Profile compared to other red wines - Infographic by Wine Folly

Fun Facts About Pinot Noir

  1. Pinot Noir likely originated in Burgundy, France. (Robinson et al. 808)
  2. Mark your calendar! August 18th is Pinot Noir Day.
  3. Pinot Noir enjoys the same climate as Chardonnay. You’ll often find these two grapes planted close by.
  4. Blanc de Noirs Champagne uses Pinot Noir (and Pinot Meunier) as its base grape.
  5. Pinot Noir is one of the few red grapes that’s commonly made into red, rosé, white, and sparkling wine!
  6. DNA analysis has revealed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are simply mutations of the same grape! (Regner et al. 2000b)

Pinot Noir wine grape acres / hectares worldwide and top countries - infographic by Wine Folly

Pinot Noir vines tend to prefer more intermediate climates with long, cool growing seasons. For this reason, you’ll often find Pinot Noir growing in protected valleys or near large bodies of water.

Pinot Noir Vineyards in Burgundy, France close to Gevrey-Chambertin in Côte d'Or with Marl (limestone-clay) soils.
French Pinot Noir vineyards near Gevrey-Chambertin in late May. Notice the limestone-clay (marl) soils. Photo by Anna & Michal

French Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, Hibiscus, Rose Petal, Mushroom, Potting Soil

Pinot Noir wines are made in a few places throughout France but the most famous region – by far – is Burgundy (aka “Bourgogne.”)

The world’s most coveted Pinot Noir vines grow on a narrow, east-facing slope just South of Dijon. Burgundy is a very old wine region and was first tended by Cistercian monks in the Middle Ages.

When tasting French Pinot Noir, you may note its more earthy and floral style. This is part of Burgundy’s terroir. In fact, many fine winemakers here choose to ferment with whole grape clusters to increase tannin in their Pinot Noir wines. This effort may result in bitterness early on, but results in wines that age 20+ years.

A view looking over Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma Valley towards the morning fog during harvest
Looking into the morning fog in Sonoma Valley from Hanzell Vineyards during harvest. By Hanzell Vineyards

California Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, Raspberry, Allspice, Darjeeling Tea, Vanilla

The United States is very diverse. That said, the lion’s share of American Pinot Noir wines come from California. While California might otherwise be too warm for this grape, you’ll find Pinot Noir excels in places that receive cooling breezes (and morning fog) from the Pacific Ocean. The ocean moderates the temperatures in places like Sonoma, Southern Napa Valley, and the Central Coast (including Santa Barbara.)

California Pinot Noir is typically rich, fruity, and lush in style. The ample sun and controlled temperatures make it easy for winemakers to pick at the perfect moment when ripeness is optimal. Besides brooding rich fruit flavors, many of these wines have subtle allspice undertones from aging in imported French oak barrels.

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly