Monday, April 21, 2014

Time for Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a contentious wine: some people drink nothing but Chardonnay, while others will drink anything but. Like everything else in the wine world, we are pretty flexible about it. It's not often that we drink it, but there is a time and a place for a good glass of Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is a wine where it is important to know a little about what you are getting. Like Riesling, which can vary from a sweet, unctuous wine to a dry, acidic version, Chardonnay can vary wildly in its flavors, depending on how it was treated. In this case, its as much dependent on how the wine was aged as the nature of the grapes. An "oaked" Chardonnay, where the wine was aged in oak barrels, will pick up characteristics of the wood; smooth toast and butter flavors evening out the crisp acidity of the grape. An "unoaked" Chardonnay, aged in stainless steel, will keep those bright acidic flavors.

For us, the right time is when you are looking for a white wine with a big flavor to go with a big meal. Other white wines can serve as a counterpoint to big, spicy flavors, but its not often that they can present anything other than bold, crisp flavors that dissipate quickly. With fatty bacon pot pies with a grilled corn and tomato salsa, most white wines might get lost, or be so acidic that they would cut through the flavors of the food. But a Chardonnay, even when it is crisp, can offer a smooth blend of flavors that is hard to find elsewhere; delicate enough on the palate to be refreshing, but bold enough to catch your attention.

Some people can't stand Chardonnay, but we're not among them. Like all wine, chardonnay has its time and place, and can bring something wonderful and unique to a meal.

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