I like pinot grigio, I do, especially when it's a well made wine of character, and the truth is that there's nicely expressive pinot grigio to be had. When it's at it's best there's texture, an oily, viscous, waxy mouthfeel and richness, a floral aromatic quality, and nice savory notes that can be mineral, smoky, even saline. What I have issue with is vapid, industrial wines without any character or flavor that pass themselves off as wines of quality and a lot of established pinot grigio in the marketplace unfortunately fits that description. It's not that I dislike them because they are cheap, in fact I love to find well made inexpensive wines that have good flavor. It's just that with so many excellent, affordable Italian white wines to choose from why should anyone settle for inferior juice?
So let's cheat on the pinot grigio, we won't tell anybody and the grigio won't even know. Here are some choices:
Castelvero Cortese ($9.99) From Piedmont, it's crisp and dry with a touch of creaminess in the mouth, a beauty.
Colosi Bianco Sicilia ($10.99) Light, crisp, and refreshing. This blows away any pinot grigio at the price for pure, simple, drinking pleasure.
Cesani Vernaccia Di San Gimignano ($11.99) Yes, it's from that famous village in Tuscany with the medieval towers. Super-dry and mineral, it exemplifies the Italian aesthetic in whites that cherishes a slight bitterness in a fine beverage.
Ca'Stella Friulano ($11.99) Umami, "who, Mommy?", a lovely, mushroomy richness wrapped around diffused pear. Talk about a complex wine for a super price!
Mille Sauvignon ($12.99 for 1L bottle) Clean citrus, grassy, very dry, it's from Friuli in the most northeastern part of Italy.
Fattori Soave Classico "Runcaris" ($12.99) Expressive delicious golden apples, that's all I need to say.
Antonelli Grechetto ($13.99) from Umbria, has richness, length, real interest, and a savory almond finish.
I hope that you have a chance to enjoy one of these wines.