Gamay vs Pinot Noir Chart


Both Gamay and Pinot Noir share red fruit, a lighter body and tannins, and medium alcohol. Gamay has floral notes; Pinot Noir has earthy notes. Pinot Noir tends to be more complex and more expensive than Gamay.

TL;DR: If you like either Gamay or Pinot Noir, then you should try the other wine, too. They’re similar.

Pinot Noir Basics: Liquid Elegance

what's pinot noir taste like - pinot noir vs gamay

Pinot Noir is originally from the Burgundy region of France and today you’ll find wines made from Pinot Noir made around the world, including Oregon, California, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Pinot Noir is an aromatic red wine grape known for its red cherry and cranberry aromas, along with a floral profile. (Check out this comprehensive guide to Pinot Noir wines.)

Fun Wine Fact: Pinot Noir can go be Red Burgundy. If you ask for a Red Burgundy at a restaurant or wine shop, you’ll get a Pinot Noir.

Gamay: Easy-drinking Red

what's gamay wine taste like infographic - gamay vs pinot noir

From the Beaujolais region of France just south of Pinot Noir’s Burgundy, most everyday Gamay wines have a lively and fruit-forward flavor profile. It offers juicy red fruit flavors, including cherry and cranberry, with a subtle hint of sweetness. The wine’s moderate acidity adds a refreshing and vibrant quality to the overall taste. Gamay’s tannins are soft and gentle, contributing to its smooth and easy-drinking nature. Check out this full post on Gamay wine.

Fun Fact: Gamay’s earned a reputation as being the first wine of the new harvest season. It goes by the term: Beaujolais Nouveau. Here’s why Beaujolais Nouveau’s so famous.

Wine Comparison: Gamay vs Pinot Noir

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Gamay and Pinot Noir.

CharacteristicsGamayPinot Noir
HueMedium to Deep RubyPale red to ruby
AromasRed berries, banana, floralRed berries, cherry, earth
AcidMedium (-) to MediumMedium to high
TanninLow to MediumLow
Alcohol (%)12-13%12-15%
BodyLight to mediumLight to medium
IntensityMediumMedium to pronounced
Key Growing RegionsBeaujolais (France)Burgundy (France), Oregon, California
Classic PairingsPork, grilled sausages, charcuteriePoultry, lamb, grilled salmon
Price Range$10-$25$15-$60

Gamay vs Pinot Noir makes a lot of sense. These are similar red wines.

Gamay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Gamay is typically made as a dry table wine.
  • Alcohol: Gamay will have medium alcohol, similar to Pinot Noir.
  • Acid: Gamay wines medium to medium plus acid, similar to Pinot Noir.
  • Body: Gamay is a lighter-bodied red wine, similar to Pinot Noir.
  • Tannin: Expect your Gamay to have low tannins, making it a friendly, approachable wine, similar to Pinot Noir.
  • Flavors: Gamay forefront ripe red fruit, like raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. Expect a distinctive floral note. Depending on the winemaking style, you may get cola, banana, or even bubblegum.

Pinot Noir Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Pinot Noir is almost always made in a dry style unless it is an inexpensive bulk wine
  • Alcohol: Pinot Noir wines typically feature moderate alcohol content, around 12%-14% ABV
  • Acid: Pinot Noir tends to have medium to medium (+) acid, similar to Gamay
  • Body: Pinot Noir is lighter in body, medium or medium (-)
  • Tannins: Pinot Noir tends to low to medium tannins that are silky like Gamay.
  • Flavor: Vibrant red fruit flavors like cranberry, raspberry, and red cherry, accompanied by floral notes and sometimes even a wet earth and tea leaf.

Are Gamay and Pinot Noir Similar?

Yes, Gamay and Pinot Noir wines are similar. They share similar red fruit, a lighter body, medium to medium plus acid, medium alcohol, and softer tannins. All of these will make the wines taste similar.

What Is the Difference Between Gamay and Pinot Noir

Gamay has a distinctive floral note that Pinot Noir doesn’t have. Pinot Noir has a tea leaf and mushroom quality, almost savory, that Gamay doesn’t have. Pinot Noir tends to be more complex on the nose. Gamay is darker in color than Pinot Noir.

Gamay vs Pinot Noir Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

pork roast - gamay vs pinot noir wine

Thanks to their shared structural profile and flavors, Gamay and Pinot Noir pair well with the same cuisines. Look to dishes that can use a little brightening up, like risotto, salads, and roasted white meats (e.g., turkey, pork loin, chicken, white beans).

Discover More: Pinot Noir Cheese Pairing Guide

Both Gamay and Pinot Noir are best enjoyed at a slightly cool temperature. Place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: You may need to decant both Gamay and Pinot Noir if they are made in a fuller-bodied style. If your wine seems closed when you first take a sip, give it a good swirl or let it sit for about 10 minutes to see if it opens up.

Which Is More Expensive, Gamay vs Pinot Noir?

Gamay and Pinot Noir differ in price points on the export market.

QualityPrice RangePrice Range
Gamay$12 – $25$25 – $40+
Pinot Noir$15 – $30$40 – $100+

Producers craft Gamay and Pinot Noir in the extreme-value price band. You can find both under $5 USD. Moving up the quality ladder, Pinot Noir tends to be slightly higher priced than Gamay due to more difficult conditions in the vineyard and winery.

Helpful Tip: Here’s how a bottle of wine gets priced. This post is a little nerdy, but it’s quite complicated and nuanced depending on where you are in the world and where you’re buying your wine.

Which Is Better, Gamay or Pinot Noir?

If you prefer a more fruit-driven, uncomplicated wine with floral and candied notes, then Gamay is the better choice. If you like intensely aromatic wines with red fruit and earth, then Pinot Noir may be a better option. If you enjoy Gamay or Pinot Noir, you’ll likely enjoy the other wine, too.

Personal Note: I’m more of a Pinot Noir fan and don’t seek out Gamay, but many of my friends do.

Final Thoughts – Gamay or Pinot Noir?

pinot noir - gamay vs pinot noir
Check out this lovely ruby Pinot Noir.

Both Gamay and Pinot Noir share a similar wine profile. They’re bright, friendly, easy-drinking red wines that many newer wine drinkers enjoy.

These two wines are best compared side-by-side, more so than most. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Gamay and Pinot Noir, invite a few friends over, and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping.

Thirsty for More?

Here’s a guide on how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Malbec vs Pinot Noir another popular strong red wine, along with Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot.

You can discover delicious wines at every price point. Explore this post on finding great red wines under $50.

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