The Kleenex of White Wine: American Chardonnay
We all have a story to tell about our introduction and seduction into the world of wine. Most of us started with white wines, unless Jewish and drinking Mogen David for Passover dinners. Many start with sweeter wines, but graduate rapidly to Chardonnay, when our palates mature in appreciation.
Chardonnay today holds court as the defacto American white wine. Many people do not even say, “I’ll have a white wine”, but instead say, “Give me a Chardonnay.”
Chardonnays boast an impressive range of flavors from the expected buttered, oak overtones to the fresh, fruit flavors of apple, pear, tropical, citrus and melon, leaving a lasting palate impression. Chardonnay will pair well with poultry dishes, pork, seafood or recipes that have a heavy cream or butter base. Un-oaked Chardonnay goes well with guacamole, garlic, salads, grilled shrimp or even mild curry dishes.
Chardonnay is White Burgundy
With a long and distinguished following, haling from the French White Burgundies and Chablis, Chardonnay enjoys a very versatile image, with vintners offering a broad range of styles and structures. From rich, buttery Chardonnays that boast unctuous presence to the unoaked Chardonnays that allow the varietal character of the fruit and expression to be in the spotlight, this white wine is capable of accommodating most palates and just as many food pairing combinations.
Chardonnay is one of the most widely-planted grape varieties, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and planted in more wine regions than any other grape. It has a wide-ranging reputation for relative ease of cultivation and ability to adapt to different conditions. The grape is very “malleable”, in that it reflects and takes on the impression of its terroir and winemaker.
As the leading white wine in the world, it has earned a comfortable and distinctive home in the United States for its distinctive flavor, full mouth feel, and compatibility with many dishes.