Wine Paring Suggestions for Chardonnay
Pairing Chardonnay wine with the right food can be difficult. When creating a dinner menu, it is often helpful to have some suggestions on the wine pairings. However when you know what meat goes with what wine is only so helpful. We have some excellent recipes for our Wine Country Foodie members that pair our exquisite Napa wines with recipes that perfectly compliment their tannin’s. There is an art to wine pairing, and we are here to help take the guesswork out of it.
Chardonnay is made in three styles:
- The classic Burgundian style emphasizes the Chardonnay grape variety rather than the oak and butter characteristics that are winemaking adds to increase body and smoothness. The classic French formula is only 30% of the wine is aged in new oak barrels (the rest is aged in once used barrels) and only 30% of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, which gives the wine creamy buttery flavors. The goal is to achieve harmony between the beautiful citrus, lychee and tropical flavors inherent in the Chardonnay grape varietal, and the added aromatics and flavors of wood, spice, vanilla, and caramel created by the subtle use of oak and malolactic fermentation. This style pairs well with ingredients from the sea- try the Foodie Club recipes for Grilled Parchment Steamed Salmon Dressed with Fragrant Fish Rub or Butter Lettuce & Arugula Salad with Seared Scallops. Also great with roasted vegetables, simple chicken dishes, cassoulet and vegetarian grained based dishes.
- A Buttery Oaky style emphasizes those flavors over the grape varietal. If overdone, this style can make the wine taste artificial, unbalanced and hard to pair with food. Often, inexpensive Chardonnays use the butter and oak flavors to hide that the grapes were overproduced on the vine and therefore do not have brilliant flavors, so they add flavor through the use of heavy oak and malolactic fermentation. Many Americans believe this is how Chardonnay should taste, a sad misconception. Best to sip alone or pair with salads, roasted vegetables and chicken.
- The Unoaked style is fermented and aged in stainless steel, concrete or neutral oak. This style is famous in Chablis, France (not to be confused with inexpensive jug wine- a completely different wine!) for a crisp and lively version that just expresses the Chardonnay varietal characteristics of green apple, lemon and sometimes pineapple with a zippy finish. Great on a hot day, with oysters, fish and salads.
O’Connell Family Wines produces a classic Chardonnay in our Pietro Family Cellars collection. A delicious food and sipping wine.
Join the Wine County Foodie Club
A year-long celebration for the foodie. Every few months, you will be shipped a selection of artisan culinary products with creative easy to prepare recipes, shopping list and suggested wine pairing. Including high quality, freshly handcrafted GC Culinary products feature our Napa Valley vineyard estate. These organically grown herbs, lavender, olives, citrus trees as well as proprietary signature products that bring a touch of wine country inspired fresh cooking into your kitchen.
– Gabrielle Leonhard O’Connell, Vintner & Culinary Creator
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