Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wine varietals in the world. It is very versatile and goes with many different foods and social settings. It’s important to know exactly how to serve Chardonnay like a pro to wow your friends and dinner guests at your next party.
Keep reading for a crash course in all things Chardonnay, so you are prepared to impress your friends and family with your wine-serving knowledge skills.
What is Chardonnay?
Chardonnay is typically used to describe wine made from Chardonnay grapes. This popular grape varietal originated in the Burgundy region of France.
Although Chardonnay grapes can be featured in white wine blends and even champagnes, a true Chardonnay is only made from this one grape type. It is a medium-bodied white wine that tends to be relatively dry and somewhat acidic.
Is Chardonnay Only Made in France?
Although Chardonnay grapes were originally cultivated in France, the grapes have been grown with success all over the world for many years.
You are just as likely to find a great Chardonnay from California, South America, or even Australia as you are from France. Many Chardonnay purists will tell you there is nothing like a real Burgundy Chardonnay, but it is grown in all major wine-making regions.
What Does Chardonnay Taste Like?
People either love or hate Chardonnay because of its distinct flavour profile. You will often hear Chardonnay described as being either “oaky/oaked” or “unoaked”. These descriptors can tell you a lot about what to expect in your glass of Chardonnay.
True wine connoisseurs have strong feelings about whether they like oaked or unoaked Chardonnay (or neither). Here is a quick breakdown of what both types taste like:
An unoaked Chardonnay tends to have a crisp, zippy flash of flavour on the palate. It can sometimes be confused with a Pinot Grigio or other mild white wines because of its light, fresh taste.
Because unoaked Chardonnays are usually made in stainless steel tanks (rather than oak tanks like the “oaked” counterpart), they tend to display more citrus fruit flavours and a distinct minerality and acidity.
Oaked Chardonnay tends to be the most popular type and is what most people think of when they hear the word Chardonnay.
These wines tend to be creamy, and buttery, and last much longer on the palate. They have lots of rich notes of baking spices and sweet fruits. Oaked Chardonnays are stored in aged oak barrels, which gives them the richness and spiciness that lovers of this varietal have come to expect.
Is Chardonnay Served Chilled or Room Temp?
As with most white wines, you should always serve a Chardonnay chilled. The ideal temperature for serving is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This will make sure that the flavours in the wine are able to stand out in a light, refreshing way.
For best results, chill your Chardonnay for at least 30 minutes before drinking. If you are bringing Chardonnay to a dinner party or special event, chill it beforehand so your host can open and enjoy the wine right away if he or she wishes.
Do You Put Chardonnay in the Fridge?
The fridge is the best place for Chardonnay. You don’t have to have a special wine fridge, your regular home fridge is the perfect temperature for your Chardonnay. Keeping it nice and cool will help the delicious flavours in your wine come to life when you drink it.
What Glass Do You Serve Chardonnay In?
Don’t just reach for any old wine glass in your cabinet while serving Chardonnay. Choosing the right glass for your Chardonnay matters as it can really enhance (or take away from) what you taste in the wine.
Although white wine glasses tend to be slightly slimmer in profile than the more “bowl-like” red wine glasses, you want to select a slightly wider white wine glass for sipping Chardonnay.
Because Chardonnay is medium-to-full-bodied (especially the oaked varieties), these wines do best with a bit more surface area in the bottom of the glass to spread out. This allows the aromas from the wine to come together and up to your nose in a pleasing way that adds to your overall tasting experience.
What Appetizers Pair Well With Chardonnay?
When most people think of white wine, especially Chardonnay, they often think of seafood. This is for a good reason. Chardonnay is a wonderful accompaniment to a wide range of seafood appetizers (and even entrees).
Another great option for pairing with Chardonnay is rich, creamy appetizers. Anything made with cheese, cream cheese, squash, nuts, or any other savoury appetizer will go amazingly well with Chardonnay.
Here is a list of some of our favourite appetizers to pair with Chardonnay that will wow your guests:
- Crab cakes
- Smoked salmon dip
- Goat cheese dip
- Baked stuffed Brie dip
- Mixed roasted nuts like cashews, almonds, and pistachios
- Savoury stuffed mushrooms
- Pumpkin risotto
How Long Can You Keep Chardonnay After Opening?
To make sure your wine will last, make sure to securely cork your Chardonnay after you’re done drinking it and store it in the fridge.
If it is well sealed and at the proper temperature, Chardonnay should keep it in the fridge for about 3-5 days. If you have a wine preserver that will remove the air from the bottle and create a new seal, that’s an even better way to prolong the life of your Chardonnay until you’re ready to finish the bottle.
How Can You Tell if Chardonnay Has Gone Bad?
It’s pretty easy to tell if Chardonnay has gone bad. Usually, it will taste sour or sharp and may even have a slight effervescence upon openings (even if it’s not supposed to be a sparkling wine). You might even notice that the colour looks more yellow than you are used to seeing with Chardonnay.
Most white wines, including Chardonnay, should be drunk within 1-3 years of the bottling date. This is a much shorter shelf life than most red wines, so it’s important to keep this in mind so you drink it while it’s still good.
Do You Need to Decant Chardonnay?
Typically white wine like Chardonnay doesn’t need to be decanted in the same way that red wine does. The purpose of decanting is to let the wine breathe and get exposure to oxygen to enhance the flavours in the wine. You can skip this step if you don’t have the time or don’t own a decanter.
With that said, many wine lovers choose to still decant their Chardonnay for a few reasons. Sometimes it’s just as simple as pouring the wine into another vessel like a decanter to serve to guests because you like the way it looks or you want to keep the bottle a surprise.
Another reason you might want to decant your Chardonnay is a bit more purposeful. If your Chardonnay isn’t chilled, you can pour it into a chilled decanter and let the cool glass slowly chill your Chardonnay. This won’t have the exact same effect as chilling in a refrigerator or on ice but is a nice way to slightly cool the wine before drinking.