I don't think there is any other grape that has reached the level of mystery, awe, or mythology than the Pinot Noir grape. The grape can make red wine that is silky, sexy, fruity, bold and complex. Or, it can be a main component of sparkling wine. And don't forget rose. Volumes of books have been written about Pinot Noir. I'll keep this to the basics, to hopefully give you a better understanding of the grape.
Pinot Noir is grown throughout the world. Some of the more notable regions are California (Santa Rita Hills, Santa Lucia Highlands, Sonoma, Russian River). Oregon (Williamette Valley), Chile, New Zealand (Central Otago), Australia (Tasmania), France (Alsace, Loire), Germany (where it is known as Spatburgunder). Experimentation is going on in South Africa, Canada and southern regions of South America.
There are so many styles of Pinot Noir. I am partial to Burgundy, but I just can't handle the prices they demand. There are certain California Pinot Noirs that I enjoy, but I find the majority too fruity. For something in between, Oregon is the place to look for Pinot Noir.
Dragonette Cellars, Ampelos, Windward, Calera - I'm obviously partial to Central Coast), Oregon (mine are: Drouhin, Erath, Lange), and Burgundy (Louis Jadot, and Drouhin have good examples in all price ranges).
Since Pinot Noir is a lighter red, it pairs with many types of food. It is one of the few reds that works with fish (Salmon and Pinot Noir work really well together). A classic pairing would be with mushroom or truffle dishes (that earthiness just works!), or boeuf bourguignonne, coq au vin and duck. For cheese, stick with Brie or Camembert.