How to Drink Pinot Noir Wine Like a Pro

by Kaia

Pinot Noir, often referred to as the “heartbreak grape” due to its delicate nature, is a renowned red wine that captivates wine enthusiasts with its elegance, complexity, and diversity. Sipping on a glass of Pinot Noir is a journey filled with nuances that evolve as you explore its various expressions. In this comprehensive guide, we will uncover the art of drinking Pinot Noir, from selecting the right bottle to understanding its unique characteristics, serving it at the ideal temperature, and pairing it with delightful dishes.


Understanding the Grape: Pinot Noir

Before diving into the intricacies of enjoying Pinot Noir wine, it’s crucial to understand the grape itself. Pinot Noir, a red wine grape originating from the Burgundy region of France, is known for its thin skins, which give it a translucent quality and a light to medium ruby color. The grape is sensitive to terroir, meaning it beautifully reflects the specific characteristics of the region in which it is grown.


The flavor profile of Pinot Noir varies, with common notes including red berries like cherries and raspberries, floral hints, earthy undertones, and sometimes a touch of spice. These characteristics make Pinot Noir a versatile wine that pairs wonderfully with a range of dishes and occasions.


Selecting the Right Pinot Noir

Choosing the perfect Pinot Noir bottle is the initial step in your journey to enjoying this elegant wine. There are various regions around the world known for producing exceptional Pinot Noir, each with its unique style and characteristics. Here are a few renowned Pinot Noir regions and what to expect from their wines:


Burgundy, France: Burgundy is the birthplace of Pinot Noir, and it’s home to some of the most sought-after bottles in the world. Burgundian Pinot Noirs are celebrated for their subtlety, complexity, and a balance of red fruit, earthiness, and floral notes.

Oregon, USA: The Willamette Valley in Oregon is known for producing vibrant and fruit-forward Pinot Noirs. These wines often exhibit bright red berry flavors with a touch of spice and a silky texture.

California, USA: California’s Pinot Noirs, particularly those from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, are often richer and more opulent. Expect ripe cherry and dark berry notes, often accompanied by vanilla and oak influences.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s Pinot Noirs, particularly those from Central Otago and Marlborough, tend to be fruit-forward, showcasing flavors of cherry, plum, and sometimes a hint of herbs.

Chile: Chilean Pinot Noir is known for its approachability and value. These wines offer flavors of red berries, balanced acidity, and a versatile profile.

Australia: Australian Pinot Noirs often display ripe fruit flavors, particularly dark cherry and plum, with a hint of spice and earthiness.

When selecting a Pinot Noir, consider your preferences. If you enjoy a more delicate and nuanced wine, look to Burgundy or Oregon. For a bolder and fruitier experience, explore California or New Zealand. As you become more familiar with Pinot Noir, you can venture into different regions to appreciate their unique expressions.

Serving Temperature for Pinot Noir

The temperature at which you serve your Pinot Noir can significantly impact its aroma and taste. Serving Pinot Noir at the ideal temperature allows you to fully appreciate its complexities. The recommended serving temperature for Pinot Noir is between 55-60°F (13-16°C).

If the wine is too warm, it may appear overly alcoholic and lose some of its more delicate aromas. On the other hand, if it’s too cold, the flavors can become muted. To achieve the perfect temperature, you can chill your Pinot Noir in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes before serving if it has been stored at room temperature. If the bottle is already chilled, simply remove it from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to let it slightly warm up.

Decanting Pinot Noir

Decanting Pinot Noir can be a valuable step in enhancing your wine-drinking experience, especially with more mature bottles. Decanting helps the wine open up, allowing its aromas and flavors to evolve and become more expressive. Here’s how to decant Pinot Noir effectively:

Select the Right Decanter: Choose a decanter with a wide base and a broad surface area to allow for better aeration. Ensure the decanter is clean and dry.

Uncork the Bottle: Gently uncork the Pinot Noir bottle without agitating the sediment at the bottom, especially for older bottles.

Pour the Wine: Slowly pour the wine into the decanter. Be cautious and try to avoid pouring any sediment into the decanter.

Aerate and Wait: Let the wine sit in the decanter for at least 30 minutes, or up to two hours, depending on the wine’s age and style. Swirl the wine gently to expose it to oxygen, allowing its aromas to blossom.

Serve: After decanting, pour the wine from the decanter into your glasses. Enjoy the enhanced aromas and flavors.

Decanting Pinot Noir can be particularly beneficial for older bottles as it can help soften any harsh tannins and bring out the wine’s nuances. However, it’s also suitable for younger Pinot Noirs to reveal their full potential.

Glassware for Pinot Noir

Choosing the right glassware can further enhance your Pinot Noir experience. Opt for a wine glass with a wide bowl and a tapered rim, often referred to as a Burgundy glass or a Pinot Noir glass. This shape allows the wine to breathe and concentrates its aromas, making it easier to appreciate the nuances of Pinot Noir.

Ensure that the glass is clean and free from any residual odors, as the delicate nature of Pinot Noir makes it highly susceptible to outside influences. Swirl the wine gently in the glass to release its aromas, then bring it to your nose to savor its fragrance.

Tasting Pinot Noir: A Sensory Journey

Tasting Pinot Noir is a sensory adventure that engages your sight, smell, and taste. Here’s how to savor Pinot Noir like a pro:

Observing the Color: Begin by examining the wine’s appearance. Pinot Noir typically has a light to medium ruby color with a slight translucence. Hold the glass up to the light and observe its hue and clarity.

Aromas and Bouquet: Gently swirl the wine in the glass to release its aromas. Put your nose into the glass and take in the bouquet. You might detect notes of red cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and floral hints. There might also be earthy undertones, such as forest floor or mushrooms.

Tasting: Take a sip and let the wine coat your palate. Pay attention to the initial flavors, the wine’s acidity, and its finish. Pinot Noir often offers bright red fruit flavors, a crisp acidity, and a silky or velvety texture. The finish can vary from short to long, depending on the wine’s style.

Evaluating Complexity: Consider the wine’s complexity. Some Pinot Noirs reveal intricate layers of flavor and aroma that evolve as you sip. Others are more straightforward, emphasizing the purity of the fruit.

Balance and Structure: Assess the wine’s balance and structure. Well-balanced Pinot Noir exhibits harmony between its acidity, fruit, and tannins. The tannins in Pinot Noir are generally softer compared to other red wines, contributing to its elegant character.

Aging Potential: If you’re tasting an aged Pinot Noir, pay attention to the evolution of flavors. Older Pinot Noirs may develop dried fruit, tobacco, or forest floor notes as they mature.

Pairing with Food: Experiment with pairing Pinot Noir with various dishes. Its versatile nature makes it an excellent companion for a range of cuisines, from salmon and poultry to mushrooms and charcuterie.


Sipping on a glass of Pinot Noir is an experience that appeals to both novice and seasoned wine enthusiasts. Its delicate nature and diverse flavor profiles offer a journey of exploration and enjoyment. Understanding the grape, selecting the right bottle, serving it at the ideal temperature, and pairing it with delightful dishes are key steps in savoring Pinot Noir like a pro.



© 2023 Copyright