All About Pinot Noir: Your Essential Guide

All About Pinot Noir: Your Essential Guide

Pinot Noir wine is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine – and for good reason. Between its versatility as a grape and its ability to pair with a wide range of foods, Pinot Noir is the perfect complement to a casual dinner evening, a moment of celebration, or sipping on your deck as you commemorate National Pinot Noir Day on August 18th.

So let’s decant a bottle and learn all about Pinot Noir.

Pinot Noir Wine’s Origin & History

Pinot Noir comes from one of the oldest wine grapes in the world, dating even further back than Cabernet Sauvignon. The ancient Romans regularly enjoyed drinking it. And one such Roman first recorded it growing in Burgundy, France, in 1 B.C.E. marking that area as Pinot Noir’s place of origin.

Though the most coveted Pinot Noir grapes grow in France, great Pinot Noir wine comes from the USA, Germany, Moldova, and Italy. These regions boost remarkable Pinot Noir grapes because they all have the type of climate this grape loves: long cool seasons in a protected valley or near a body of water.

Our grape grower (aka, viticulturist) often refers to Pinot Noir grapes as the “ballerina of red wines” because of its delicate nature and challenge to grow. The grapes like to grow close together, which reduces airflow and encourages fungi growth. At Rove Estate, we use diligent wine cultivation practices that are critical for a successful Pinot Noir harvest. And it also helps that our location is 1,165 feet above sea level – ideal for the right amount of air flow to dry off the clusters.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Pinot Noir grape is it shares the same DNA with two white wine grapes: Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc! (And fun fact, Rove Estate grows all 3 Pinot varietals!)

The similarities of the 3 wine grapes can also be seen in how they grow. In French, Pinot is a synonym for “pine cone,” and all 3 Pinot varietal grape clusters hang tight together looking like pine cones. Perhaps this shared DNA is what makes Pinot Noir such a versatile grape, often finding it made into a red, rosé, white, or sparkling wine.

Pinot Noir Wine’s Characteristics

Pinot Noir is a beloved wine of red wine drinkers seeking a lighter touch than Merlot. When you sip a glass of Pinot Noir, you’ll discover a smooth, silky, dry wine with low tannins, medium-high acidity, and a light body.

Color: A Pinot Noir has a light ruby red color.

Flavors: Pinot Noir presents bright red fruit characteristics like cherry and raspberry, as well as tastes of mushroom, clove, and hibiscus.

Aroma: Pinot Noir wine gives off notes of berries, spice, florals, and earth.

Northern Michigan Pinot Noir is known for bright red fruits, such as red cherry, cranberry, and other ripe berries. On Rove Estate where we plant Pinot Noir, the soil has a long history of cherry orchards, which is one of the reasons that note is so prominent in our red wines.

Aging: Pinot Noir wine ages well and can stay in your wine cellar for 10+ years.

Pinot Noir Wine Food Pairings

One aspect of Pinot Noir that some find surprising is that it’s recommended it be served slightly chilled at 55-60° – so just below room temperature. This is because of its delicate, acidic, and low tannin profile. 

You can decant your bottle of Pinot Noir before serving if you like, but it doesn’t need more than 30 minutes. But decanting is a preference and not a requirement since Pinot Noir wine is ready to be served out of the bottle.

When thinking about food pairings for Pinot Noir, you’ll be happy because its high acidity and low tannins makes it a superb choice for a range of foods! It’s light enough for grilled fish but complex enough for roasted meats or stews. 

If you want something meat forward, Pinot Noir wine pairs well with duck, chicken, pork, or salmon. But with its earthy notes and mushroom flavor, Pinot Noir also pairs nicely with vegetarian dishes like mushrooms, tomato-based sauces, earthy vegetables, or bright red to black fruits.

There isn’t much you need to avoid when pairing dishes with a bottle of Pinot Noir, but try avoiding extremely spicy or fatty dishes that will overwhelm its delicate flavors.

If you’d like more help with wine and food pairs, check out our food pairing guide for winter wines and summer wines. We also have a great Food and Wine Pairing Rules 101 to help increase your knowledge about all things wine and food!

Get ready for Rove Estate’s 2021 Pinot Noir!

At Rove Estate, we’re busy bottling our exclusive 2021 Pinot Noir. Our Pinot Noir boosts aromas of cocoa and Michigan cherries followed by a delicate balance of baked cranberry, bright red fruit, and hint of clove on the palate, transitioning into a soft lingering finish. 

Sign up for our newsletter below so you know all about the release of our 2021 Pinot Noir!

If you’re a Rove Nation Wine Club member, email us at to reserve a bottle today.

Want to learn about more different wines? Check out our other essential wine guides on Riesling and Rosé!

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