Though the spelling is different and the bottles are usually in different sections of the wine store, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the same grape. Not only that, but they’re also the same grape as Auvergne Gris, Baratszinszoeloe, Fromentot, Spinovy Hrozen and Zelenak, as well as at least 105 other aliases, including (my favorite) Ouche. And why someone in the United States hasn’t started producing California Ouche, I certainly don’t know.
But until the time comes when you can ask for a crisp Fromentot to pair with your Kumamotos on the half shell, Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are the names to know. Translate either one and the result is "gray Pinot," which makes perfect sense: The skins of this grape have a hue ranging from gray-blue to coppery orange, and the grape itself is a mutation of Pinot Noir.
Although the variety originated in France, Pinot Gris/Grigio is now planted pretty much anyplace that isn’t too hot in summer and that has long, cool autumns. Pinot Gris from Alsace, France, tends to be full-bodied and unctuous, full of spice notes and peach and apricot flavors; Northern Italian Pinot Grigios are bright, light and zippy, with white peach or nectarine flavors and tingly acidity. New World versions are essentially divided into these two styles, and the wines tend to be labeled Gris or Grigio accordingly.