What’s the difference between Barolo and Pinot Noir?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What’s the difference between Barolo and Pinot Noir?

—Kevin, Alpharetta, Ga.

Dear Kevin,

Both Barolos and Pinot Noirs are red wines, and they can both showcase bright acidity and appealing earth notes, with the best showcasing strong aging potential. But the similarities largely end there.

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape grown all over the world. In New World regions, such as California, Oregon and New Zealand, a wine made from Pinot Noir grapes will usually feature the words "Pinot Noir" on the wine label. However, wines in many Old World countries such as France are often labeled by region rather than grape, so a red Burgundy, which is made from Pinot Noir grapes, usually won't have the words "Pinot Noir" on the label. Pinot Noir also goes by a few other names, notably Pinot Nero in Italy and Spätburgunder in Germany and Austria. I recommend checking out our Know Your Grapes section for a more detailed look at Pinot Noir. Pinot Noirs are made in a variety of styles, but they're typically light to medium-bodied, juicy and smooth, even silky; the best examples offer an elegant and complex mix of fresh fruit flavors, structure and earth notes.

Barolo is one of the aforementioned wines that takes its name from the region in which it's made; in this case, the Barolo DOCG of Italy's Piedmont region. Barolos are made from the Nebbiolo grape, and they tend to be juicy (like Pinot Noir) and very tannic (unlike Pinot Noir). Barolos are especially distinctive for their rose petal and tar aromas, and pair terrifically with white truffles, which are also grown in the same region of Italy.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Pinot Noir Nebbiolo barolo

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