What Does Pinot Noir Taste Like? (Expert Guide)

    Pinot Noir Taste

    Pinot Noir has a reputation for being the height of elegance and sophistication and very tricky to grow, but what does Pinot Noir taste like?

    What Does Pinot Noir Taste Like?

    Pinot Noir Tastes

    They may all share a grape in common, but not all Pinot Noirs will taste the same. That’s the beauty of the wine world. 

    But typically, Pinot Noir tends to be associated with a light and bright red wine with hints of violets, strawberries and even mushrooms.

    The typical tasting notes of Pinot Noir are:

    • Raspberry
    • Cherry
    • Mushroom
    • Vanilla
    • Oak

    So how can you taste Pinot Noir properly?

    What should you look out for?

    How To Taste Pinot Noir? (3 Step Process)

    The first step to tasting Pinot Noir well is learning how to break down the elements of sugar, acidity and tannins that appear in the glass. This is how the sommeliers do it, too. 

    Step 1. Identify Sweetness 

    Pretty much all Pinot Noir are dry wines, with not a trace of residual sugar to be found.

    This sense of dryness is often exacerbated by the presence of tannins, although Pinot Noirs are known for their smooth, supple levels of tannins. 

    Step 2. Determine The Acidity 

    A great way to determine how acidic your Pinot Noir is is by paying attention to how much your mouth waters in response, a Pinot Noir with good levels of acidity will literally have you drooling in response.

    Related Guide: Low Acid White Wines

    Step 3. Taste The Tannins

    Your mouth doesn’t just alert you to acidity, but makes you aware of tannins too. 

    Tannins are present in the skins of grapes, which work to give our red wines all of those beautiful ruby and purple colours in the glass.

    Which is why red wines have tannins and white wines do not. 

    Tannins create a drying sensation on your mouth that you’ll feel on your tongue and across your gums.

    The dryer your mouth the higher the tannin levels, which is why some acidity to balance the tannins out is always welcome.

    Luckily for us, Pinot Noir has both!

    So how do these factors affect the taste of Pinot Noir?

    What Affects The Taste of Pinot Noir

    Just like all recipes you follow, the eventual taste of a Pinot Noir is dictated by the balance of (lack of) sugar, tannins and acidity.

    A high acidity Pinot Noir will be oozing with juicy strawberries and bright cherry fruit.

    A very tannic Pinot Noir may be earthier, with hints of mushroom, or a forest after it rains. 

    But what other characteristics are associated with Pinot Noir? 

    What Are Pinot Noir Characteristics

    Pinot Noir InfographicHere are some of the characteristics associated with a typical glass of Pinot Noir:

    • Body - Pinot Noir makes very light red wines with a medium body.
    • Tannins - Pinot Noir also makes very low tannin red wines, making it a great introductory red wine for those used to drinking white wines.
    • Sweetness - There will be little to no residual sugar in a Pinot Noir.
    • Dryness - Unless you have a dessert wine on your hand, all Pinot Noir wines tend to be bone dry.
    • ABV - Pinot Noir will vary in alcohol percentage, but the majority will sit somewhere between the 11-13% ABV mark.

    But do different types of Pinot Noir have different characteristics?

    Or does all Pinot Noir taste the same?

    Related Guides:

    What does Wine Taste Like?

    What does White Wine Taste Like?

    What does Red Wine Taste Like?

    3 Types of Pinot Noir Tastes 

    Here are some Pinot Noir styles you may come across and the tastes and textures associated with those styles: 

    1. Red Burgundy

    Perhaps the most famous expression of Pinot Noir in the world, French Burgundy is beloved for its earthy, floral characters.

    2. American Pinot Noir

    This is a much more fruit forward version of Pinot Noir, with tasting notes including sweet cherry cola, vanilla ice cream and caramel infused blackberries.

    3. Germanic Pinot Noir

    Germany grows Pinot Noir to beautiful results.

    Expect a lot of cherry aromas here, but with a good acidity and smooth tannins to create a really rich and sumptuous red wine.

    These Pinot Noirs will have more body, but are still just as elegant. 

    Before You Go...

    Wine BarrelsSo there we go, an introduction to dissecting the tasting notes of Pinot Noir.

    Why not try and come up with a tasting note of your own with the help of friends next time you open a bottle?

    Read our other Pinot Noir guides here:

    You can browse more posts on Wine Serving and Tasting here

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    philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
    Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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