Pinot Gris vs. Pinot Grigio: What’s the Difference?

You’re hosting a sophisticated dinner party. Your appetizers are amazing; your main course is to die for. And dessert – oh, we can only imagine! But most importantly, you serve an incredible selection of wine. A sweet rich pinot gris. A refreshing, fruity pinot grigio. Perfect. Then someone asks you, “What’s the difference between pinot gris wine and pinot grigio?” Um… hmmm. What is the difference?

Pinot Gris Wine | Pinot Gris Taste | Rainstorm Wines

Well… Pinot gris and pinot grigio do come from the same grape. It originated in France. There, it is cultivated in Alsace and the resulting wine is known as pinot gris. In Italy, it goes by pinot grigio. This is not the only difference, however.

French vs. Italian

French pinot gris wines are rich, spicy, and have a thicker, more viscous texture. They also age superbly. Italy, which is credited to popularizing pinot grigio (thanks, Italy!), produces a lighter, crisp, fresh wine with bright fruit and floral notes.

Today, pinot gris and pinot grigio grapes are cultivated all over the world; usually, you’ll find the more Italian-inspired flavors. But some regions, notably Oregon and New Zealand, take their cue from the French and produce a more rich, textured pinot gris taste.

Now the big question: what do you serve with pinot grigio and what pairs well with pinot gris? For pinot grigio, try light dishes. Think fish, grilled shrimp, and airy appetizers. Want to get hearty? Pair pinot gris with roasts, hard cheeses, veal, rabbit stew – and elevate your comfort food chicken casserole with a perfectly chilled glass.

Well, now you’re prepared when someone asks you the difference between pinot gris wine and pinot grigio! Better yet – be prepared with a delicious bottle from your favorite label. Your guests will thank you. More importantly, you will thank you!

Does Wine Relax You?

Wine and relaxation seem to go hand in hand. After a long day, one way to restore calm is to savor a glass of your favorite red, white, or blush. Science confirms what we’ve all known: wine relaxes you! Drinking wine in moderation can help us unwind, de-stress, and find balance even during our most unbalanced days.

Wine Relaxes You | Wine and Relaxation | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Evidence Confirms That Wine Relaxes You

According to Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, a board-certified internist, drinking wine “is one of the most time-honored ways for disconnecting our brains at the end of the day.” He explains that it calms “transiently, because it is a central nervous system depressant.” It can, essentially, offer a sedative effect.

The key is – you guessed it – moderation. And timing. Just because wine has a sedative, relaxing effect doesn’t mean you should get in your jammies and pour yourself a few glasses of pinot noir at bed time. In fact, this can boost your metabolism and interrupt sleep. Not what you want when you need to get your 8 hours. Dr. Teitelbaum says, “So the net effect of relying on alcohol for relaxation is adverse if too much is consumed, too close to bedtime.”

Also if you have acid reflux (which tends to flare up at night) or gastritis, it is best to avoid wine at bed because it can make these conditions worse.

The best way to combine wine and relaxation is to have a glass with dinner. It will produce the calming effect you want without impeding your ability to sleep.

The next question is what’s the best wine for relaxation? Your favorite, of course! But if you want a little extra kick for health, experts recommend going with a red. Resveratrol, present in red wines, is linked with increased lifespan. As Dr. Teitelbaum says, “What a great way to live long and love living!” We couldn’t agree more!

Wine relaxes you; enjoy in moderation and you’ll build some peace and serenity into your day!

Why Do We Celebrate with Champagne?

When we celebrate an important event or occasion, champagne is not far behind. Weddings, anniversaries, job promotions, graduations, New Year. It is the most beloved – universal – treat when we want to give thanks and share joy with our loved ones. But why? What makes champagne the celebratory wine? Let’s find out!

Celebratory Wine | Choose Wine | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

Celebratory Wine

In days past, this may have been because champagne was so exclusive. From the Champagne region of France, it was the choice of royalty; it’s said that Palais Royal guests loved the way the cork came “jumping out of the bottle!” And Louis XV’s “official chief mistress,” Madame de Pompadour, was famed for ordering 1800 bottles for just one party.

Part of the appeal may lie in its history. According to legend, champagne was invented by a monk named … you guessed it, Dom Perignon. The cellar mater for the Abbey of Hautvillers, his job entailed eliminating the risk of bubbles, which would ruin the wine. He failed! He decided to sample the “ruined” wine – and he thought it was fabulous! He reportedly shouted, “Come quick! I am drinking the stars.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Or legend. No matter!

But as the bottles could explode if the sugar ratio was not perfect, champagne became ultra-exclusive – and ultra-expensive. Cue the Royals.

Why do we continue to honor champagne? Well … we can’t resist drinking the stars. What a romantic concept! And today, even as prices have decreased and made it much more accessible, we still love the prestige, the feeling of exclusivity … and the bubbles! It’s just special and has been referred as the “elixir of joy.”

Choose Wine

When you choose wine for celebrating, champagne is at the top of the list. A toast would not be complete without it! Tip: If you have a special occasion to mark, serve your favorite reds and whites and save the champagne for the big announcement, the toast, or when the ball drops. Cheers to celebratory wine!

What’s the Best Valentine’s Day Wine?

The big day is coming up: Valentine’s Day! Do you need a way to make it even more special for you and your love? We’ve got it. Choose the perfect Valentine’s Day wine and you’ll create a romantic, magical evening to remember.

Valentine's Day Wine | Pinot Noir Taste Profile | Rainstorm Wines of Oregon

The Reviews Are In

What is the ideal Valentine’s Day wine? Experts agree… it’s Pinot Noir. It fairly shouts “Romance!” In fact, Jancis Robinson, wine writer, says it is a “minx of a wine.” Oh, behave! It’s got a touch of intrigue, daring, and drama – perfect for fanning the flames of love on a cold winter’s day.

The color is red – the signature color of Valentine’s Day. It’s rich and deep; the texture is full, fleshy, and yet silky smooth; its aroma is intense. But it’s the Pinot Noir taste profile that seals the deal as a Valentine’s Day wine. One critic described it as “sensuous, often erotic.” If you read wine reviews (and who doesn’t?!), you’ll notice that few wines are as associated with romance and love as Pinot Noir. It brings out the lover in all of us.

Open a bottle and inhale the soft scent of rosehips. Savor the elegant bright cherry and pomegranate flavors. Appreciate the wonderful balance and harmony. And then, break out some V-Day treats. Pinot Noir pairs beautifully with lamb, filet mignon, mushrooms, soft cheeses like brie, and warmed bread with delectable fresh virgin olive oil. Prepare a feast or visit your favorite intimate eatery. And don’t forget dessert! Chocolate complements Pinot Noir, as does creme brulee.

Decant and Enjoy

For best results, don’t drink Pinot Noir when it is chilled. If your bottle is cool, decant it for an hour or two until it reaches room temperature. Then pour a glass and enjoy with your love! What a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.

Why Drink White Wine in the Winter

It’s winter. It’s cold out. You order or serve yourself a white wine. That’s when your friend gives you the look. What kind of monster are you! They look outside, then to the glass in your hand, with wide, urgent eyes, as if they don’t even want to give voice to the faux pas you’re embracing. Relax! There’s no season for white vs. red wine. Next time your friend gives you that look, hit them with some winter white wine facts!

Winter White Wine | White vs. Red Wine | Rainstorm Wines

History’s on Your Side

The oldest known white wine was made in the Zagros mountains of the Middle East 7,500 years ago. The ancient villages in that mountain range get plenty cold in winter. That means the most traditional possible way of enjoying white wine is year-round, even when there’s snow on the ground.

Complementing Hearty Meals

The food we eat in the winter tends to be richer and fattier. Full-bodied reds don’t have the acidity of a crisp winter white wine. When you’re having comfort food that gets you through the long cold months, there’s often nothing better than a white wine with an acidic element that complements these hearty meals.

Let it Warm Just a Bit

White wine doesn’t have to be kept especially cold. The ideal serving temperature for white wine is usually between 49 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. A home fridge is usually too cold at 40 degrees. This is why using a wine cooler benefits the full taste and aromas of the wine. An alternative is taking it out of the fridge and letting it sit on the counter 20-30 minutes before drinking. The point is, white wine shouldn’t be frigid when you drink it. That dismantles one of the chief arguments against winter white wine then and there.

A Different Mood

Sometimes it’s great to sit at the window, looking out at the gray sky and a snowstorm, wrapped in a blanket with a roaring fire a few feet away, with your dog at your feet as you knit, read a book of poetry, contemplate existence. Red wines are perfect for this.

Other times, you want to get up and play in the snow, build a fort and have a snowball fight, go snow hiking, or walk around to see the holiday lights. When it comes to white vs. red wine, white wine clearly holds the advantage here. There are different moods for the season, and you should enjoy both of them as you want. White wine suits some moments, and red wine has its own moments.

Why close off something you enjoy for an entire season? Next time your friend gives you that look, hand them their own glass of white wine. They’re just jealous.

How to Pair Wine with Pizza

We love pizza and wine! It helps that wine goes well with just about everything, but pizza features cheese, meats, sauces, and veggies that are essentially tailor-made to pair with wine.

Pizza and Wine | Pairing Wine with Pizza | Rainstorm Wines

How should you start pairing wine with pizza? Let’s start with cheese pies and go from there.

Cheese Pizza

Cheese pizza centers on its sauce and the texture of its cheese. The red sauce is acidic, while the cheese is fatty, making an already great pairing. Add a light-bodied, juicy Chianti for a very natural taste, or a Syrah or Syrah blend such as GSM for a more complex experience.

Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni’s spice demands a stronger wine. Its natural fat content asks for something on the acidic side. Aim for a Sangiovese for a classic pairing, a cabernet sauvignon for one that you’ll want to slow down to enjoy, or a Cabernet Franc for something new and unexpected.

Sausage Pizza

Sausage is a rich flavor, so it demands one in return. Look for a Syrah with pronounced fruit flavors or a Malbec that leans into its blackberry, plum, and cherry flavors.

Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian pizza has its detractors, but many love it, too. Here, a Riesling with sweet flavor is ideal. A Lambrusco can act as a good complement without having the same cleansing effect between bites.

Margherita Pizza

Pairing wine with pizza is as much about maintaining the theme of the taste in many circumstances. Sometimes it’s a science, and here it’s an art. A subtle, dry rose goes well with the fresh, garden taste of margherita pizza.

Veggie Pizza

When pairing wine with pizza that’s heavy on the vegetables, look for a Sauvignon Blanc that’s bright and crisp. The more variety to the vegetables, the more it will lean into this choice. You can also try Vinho Verde, which is a crisp, clear, light white wine that directly translates to “green wine.”

White Pizza (Our Favorite!)

Forget the sauce! Here, you’ll want wine that complements both the cream-centered flavor of white pizza and the focus on herbs that this choice brings with it. For this, you can opt for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay.

Other Choices

This hardly covers all pizza and wine, so get creative! A barbecue chicken pizza goes exceptionally well with a Malbec. For pizza with jalapenos, opt for a sweet Riesling to balance out the spice. For a salad pizza, grab a Sauvignon Blanc that features tart notes.

Who’s hungry?!

Pairing Wine with Your New Year’s Resolutions

Are you making some New Year’s resolutions? Celebrate them with wine! In fact, pairing a wine with a resolution can be a great way to treat that goal like it’s something fun, and not just some task you gave yourself. But what wine pairs with which resolution? A wine pairing guide for resolutions is what you need to ring in the New Year.

New Year's Resolutions | Wine Pairing Guide | Rainstorm Wines

Track your finances. Reign in your credit. Get out of debt.

New Year’s resolutions that center on your finances mean learning how to enjoy yourself without breaking the bank. Drink something that’s rich in flavor, not in cost. A malbec can offer a complex, refined world of tastes. Fruit like blackberry, plum, and cherry meet a leathery, peppery mouthfeel that seems to slow the entire world down around you.

Work out. Hike more. Get to the gym.

New Year’s resolutions that center around health and fitness should be rung in with a lighter wine. Vinho Verde translates to “green wine.” It’s a crisp and delicious white wine from Portugal. Its texture dances across the tongue, while its alcohol content is lighter and has fewer calories. It’s a delicious sipping wine with crispness and clarity tailor made for celebrating the New Year.

Make more personal time. Get enough sleep. Read more.

Resolutions that center on improving the quality of your own time mean that you should drink something with an introspective quality. A soft yet structured pinot noir is exactly what you need to start valuing yourself more than you have been. It’s the perfect wine for curling up and treating yourself well.

Make friends. Learn a hobby. Go out more.

If your resolutions are centered around becoming more social, then the wine you drink doesn’t matter as much as who you’re drinking it with. A wine pairing guide can help, but sharing what each of you like is going to be most fun. That said, if you need some ideas, find wines off the beaten path that you can talk about together. A robust cabernet sauvignon that balances its deep fruit flavors with some minerality can make everyone smile. If you prefer a white wine instead, try an organic sparkling white wine for that final countdown to the new year.

Let’s make 2019 the year we achieve our New Year’s resolutions!

Cool Climate Wines Perfect for Flannel Season

There are certain things you can always trust about wines in a particular region. They’ll always be a good fit for the kind of weather that the area experiences. So what wine could possibly be better for flannel season than Portland wine? These cool climate wines are made to suit a number of fall and winter experiences. We often think about how wine pairs with food. How a wine pairs with a season can be just as important.

Portland Wine | Cool Climate Wines | Rainstorm Wines

The climate in which the grapes grow directly affects the wines that are created:

Cool Climate Red Wines

Cool climates mean that certain grapes will enjoy the temperatures and weather more than others. For instance, you’re going to have a tough time growing grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon in a cool region.

Cool climates provide perfect conditions for growing grapes for Pinot Noir, Merlot, Schiava, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Rondo, Regent, Lagrein, Chambourcin, and others.

These wines are characterized by having a higher acidity. This makes them perfect for meals with roasted vegetables, and most meat – especially fish. They also have more spice to them than warm climate wines.

Their bodies are lighter and they’ll have lower alcohol content – a perfect excuse to have just one more glass.

Try This:

As an extra tip, the blend of spice, light bodies, and high acidity in Portland wine makes these reds exquisite with dark chocolates, chocolate caramels, or desserts that feature these flavors. You know, just in case that information proves useful! Try Merlot with dark chocolate or a Pinot Noir with chocolate caramel.

If you like the effect, think about a wine & chocolate tasting party. These are a great way to celebrate the holidays or ring in the New Year. Comparing favorite choices and pairings is an immediate party icebreaker.

Cool Climate White Wines

Cool climate wines of the white variety tend to possess some of the same qualities: they have higher acidity, light body, and lower alcohol content. There is another element they add, however. Instead of standout spicy notes, white wines grown in cooler climates will tend to have a bit more fruit and tart to them. Both in taste and aroma, you’ll find hint of lemon and lime flavors that are exceptional.

Cool climate white wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Chasselas, Solaris, Madeleine Angevine, and Bacchus.

Try This:

Pinot Gris pairs very well with roasted veggies and seared fish. The higher acidity and complex flavor of the wine complements more straightforward methods of cooking. What many don’t think of is how well it pairs with cream sauces.

This is because of how its acidity plays with the fat content of the sauce. The mouthfeel that results from alternating a bite from the dish and a sip of the wine builds throughout the meal. Oregon Pinot Gris also tends to have pear flavors, which are some of the most exquisite to pair with cream sauces.

Or This:

If you try the wine & chocolate pairing party above, you don’t have to banish white wines from the festivities. White chocolate is often made with citrus flavors. This goes well with a Sauvignon Blanc, where the fruity notes of the two help complete that connection.

What Oregon Fall Wines Should I Choose?

The Willamette Valley is well known for its richly rewarding Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris wines.

Pinot Noir: The Pinot Noirs of Portland wine typically feature great spice notes. There may be no better wine for fall than Pinot Noir and its berry tones. Best of all, Oregon Pinot Noir isn’t all the same. There’s a cultural focus to wine growing in Oregon that highlights the creation of a variety of options.

This means you’ll find Pinot Noirs that offer a number of different spice elements and body. What’s remarkable is how the quality remains high across them, with a focus on features that are perfect with hearty meals. Get some with a few different flavors and tones, to mix and match with your fall and winter favorites.

Pinot Gris: The Pinot Gris wines of Oregon take a different bend. These are remarkably fruity wines with complex flavors and bodies. Fall is also a time of harvest, and the Pinot Gris options pair exquisitely with a range of dishes from the vegetables that come in. Some of the hardiest vegetables make it well into fall, and these often make some of the most flavorful seasonal meals.

Chardonnay: Oregon Chardonnay blends smoky textures to its pronounced fruit flavors. Ideal for late summer days, this Chardonnay also has a strong argument for fall when you want something full-bodied.

Viognier: Viognier is gaining a foothold in Oregon. Its tropical flavors may seem like an odd choice for Fall, until you consider the fruits and vegetables we often eat at this time of year. Viognier’s flowery notes go best with fruits and veggies that have strong flavor – such as cranberries, apples, squash, and even lighter pumpkin treats. If you opt for a ham for any feast, Viognier pairs better with it than almost any other wine.

One Last Thing

Get yourself a few different options so that you have variety and don’t repeat. We all have our comfort wine for the season. Just make sure you can change it up a little for different meals. Find reasons to celebrate the season – first snow is as important to many as more traditional holidays. Use these little moments as opportunities to celebrate with friends, and to share your favorites in everything: wines, meals, music, desserts, films.

Fall and winter can be a very cozy time to huddle with your loved ones, to heal, celebrate, and share. Take advantage of these moments. Treat yourself kindly over these months.

25 Funky Holiday Gift Ideas

The best holiday gift ideas are presents that can be shared with others. This is why wine for the holidays is always so popular. Other gifts might include something handmade or those that help others. Gifts help us draw closer. Here are 25 ways to do just that:

Holiday Gift Ideas | Wine for the Holidays | Rainstorm Wines

1. Donation to Charity: For those who can’t stop giving of themselves, make a donation to to their favorite charity in their name.

2. Book of Local Art: A book featuring local art that can be seen in person gives your recipient a checklist of fun trips!

3. Tea: Tea lovers like nothing better than to try new varieties. Get an idea of whether they enjoy herbals, caffeinated teas, or just like to experiment with new flavors.

4. Brownie Mix: What’s better than brownies? Making brownies together! Mixes are easy to add to, and their simplicity ensures that baking can be social.

5. A News Subscription: It’s more important than ever to be informed. A subscription to a favorite newspaper means a lot.

6. Wine for the Holidays: After reading the news, you might want some wine! It’s always more delicious when you can throw around words like “bouquet,” “tannic,” and “mouthfeel” with a friend afterward.

7. Chocolates & Wine: It’s astounding the number of people who haven’t paired chocolate and wine together yet. They’re missing out. Unique dark chocolates with the right wine pairing can draw out flavors you never even thought of tasting.

8. Drawing Supplies: By the same token, art can be extremely social. Go on a trip to a garden, the shore, the mountains, or the woods and start drawing together.

9. Painting Classes: Same thing here, except more structured. Painting classes can help you pursue a way of de-stressing while developing a talent.

10. Workshops: More hands on? There are workshops for everything these days. Learn to make candles, fish, create, intricate dessert decorations, or become a metalsmith.

11. Self-Defense Classes: A lot of people would love to know more self-defense. It’s a good way to stay safe and be more confident. Try taking the class together!

12. Honey: Honey is flavored by the flowers the bees feed on. They can be further flavored with nuts, cinnamon, and other additions.

13. Flavored Olive Oils: Cooks will love espresso, rosemary, chili, and truffle olive oils. Each can give a familiar dish an incredible amount of new flavor.

14. Board Games: Anyone out there who likes board games has another that they want. Find out what it is, and you’ll be their hero. Just be sure you’re ready to play it with them.

15. New Wallets: Everyone keeps their wallets way too long. Chances are they don’t even need 90% of what’s in there. Try streamlined wallets that are thinner and easier to carry.

16. Coloring Books for Adults: This is so 2015, right? Who cares? These are still superb gifts to help relax in stressful times.

17. Translated Books: Is there a book series that’s hard to get because it’s translated? Seek it out – few holiday gift ideas will be more meaningful to an avid reader.

18. Chemistry Kits: Chemistry and other science kits are engaging educational gifts for girls and boys who dream of becoming scientists.

19. CSA Shares: A farm share can keep someone stocked in fruit and veggies throughout the year. There are also farm shares for beer, ice cream, and flowers, so be inventive!

20. Fully Stocked Spice Rack: If you know cooks who are constantly out of spices and only have salt and pepper on hand, now’s the perfect time to help them out.

21. Coffee: Let’s be real. No coffee lover has ever been disappointed at receiving…more coffee! A gift basket of coffee, kahlua, and either whiskey or Irish cream (keep chilled!) never goes wrong.

22. Incense: People who like incense will burn right through this gift. You can be sure it’ll get used.

23. Beautiful Throws: Blankets. Must have more blankets! In the colder months, you can cover pretty much every sitting surface with a ready-to-use blanket and still not have enough.

24. Dog Walking: Are friends having trouble getting home from work to walk the dog. Give them a month (or a few months) of dog-walking services so they know their loved one is getting enough exercise!

25. Lunar Calendar: This shows the phases of the moon throughout the year, a perfect reminder for stargazers who get too busy to remember to look up at the night sky.

Best of all, give the gift of yourself this season. Spend time with family and friends, taking the time to enjoy each other’s company – with a glass or two of wine for the holidays!

The Best Wines to Pair with Grilled Salmon

There’s no single wine that’s absolutely right for a particular pairing. Chances are, there will be a range for you to enjoy when wine pairing with fish. This gives you plenty of delicious options. Whether pinot pairings or something else, different choices will give the meal a unique flavor and attitude. This means you can be creative in your pairing approach! Experiment!

wine pairing with fish, pinot pairings

Salmon has a depth of taste, so it pairs very well with a richer white wine. You may not have thought of it before – fish and white wine is so ingrained as a rule – but lighter reds can work wonders, too.

Pinot Noir

This is the most tried-and-true pairing. The wine has rich fruit flavors and gentle spice tastes. The salmon’s preparation matters a great deal when choosing pinot pairings. If the fish is prepared in a simpler, more traditional or savory style, or over charcoal, then the salmon will taste bold. A wine with a pronounced cherry and hint of spice turns the entire experience succulent.

Don’t go too oaky with your pinot pairings. An oaky pinot noir will overwhelm the flavor of the fish and won’t be a pleasant choice. A bit of oak is OK and part of what provides that light spice. Just don’t go overboard with it.

Pinot Gris

Wine pairing with fish is about complementary flavors. Pinot gris boasts flavors that lean into the tropical variety, delivered with a complex texture. It’s not only its taste that works well with salmon; the mouthfeel is exceptional, too.

Pinot gris goes well with salmon that’s been prepared with mustard or ginger flavors or that has salad as a side.

Pinot Rosé

Wine pairing with fish doesn’t often bring reds to mind, but a very fruity, pink pinot rosé often has a delicious, melon taste to it. This is one of the very best matches you can make with salmon.

This works well particularly when there are grilled vegetable sides, or the dish includes grilled vegetables. Grilled salmon tacos are also popular, and people are finally brave enough to try making them at home. Pinot rosé is absolutely the best pairing with these.

Who’s hungry?! Wine pairing with fish needn’t be intimidating. Explore and see what strikes your fancy – and your palette.