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Chardonnay

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All About Chardonnay

Chardonnay grapes can grow in almost any climate. And when it comes to reflecting the earth they're grown in, they're an overachieving valedictorian. Many Chardonnays are "oaked" or aged in oak barrels. Oak-aging has an immense affect on the flavor of the wine often imparting vanilla, butter and coconut on the flavor of the wine. If you haven't had a Chardonnay wine you like, don't give up on them all. Try looking for an un-oaked Chardonnay to highlight more of the lighter, delicate flavors such as citrus and apple.

Types of Chardonnay:

Despite the fact that winemakers produce Chardonnay all over the world, few people other than experts can tell the difference. Unlike the menu at Taco Bell, this doesn't mean that everything's going to taste the same to you. Sure, it's satisfying, but you want something that specifically appeals to your taste buds. Chardonnay is usually divided into geographic locations:

  • Australia: Chardonnay grapes are the most-produced white grape in the Land Down Under. Grown in many of the valleys surrounding Adelaide and in Western Australia along the Margaret River, Australian Chardonnay is known for its rich flavor. Plus, the longer they're aged, the better they taste.
  • Burgundy: This historic region of east-central France is one of the original homes of Chardonnay. The most expensive Chardonnays come from the northern section of this region, also known as Cote de Beaune. Most of these wines are oak-aged, but with the cooler climate, they're more complex than a calculus problem.
  • Chablis: Located in the north-central region of France, the town of Chablis is famous for its Chardonnays. The mineral-filled taste is due to the limestone and clay soils of the region. The stainless steel aging process also gives it a lighter flavor with hints of vanilla and honey. Together, the grapes and aging give it a flavor found nowhere else in the world.
  • Washington: With an average of two more hours of sunlight than most Chardonnay-growing areas, the grapes of Washington ripen more evenly. This gives the Chardonnay a well-balanced, creamy and slightly acidic flavor.
  • California: Warmer temperatures in California give the grapes here a distinct flavor. Although the aging is based on practices in France, California winemakers use heavy oak barrels and heavily ripened fruit to offer a fuller body.

How Should You Drink Chardonnay?

If you have time to chill Chardonnay, it makes it even more refreshing, but if you want to enjoy it as soon as you get home, don't fret. Unlike other wines, it's best out of a short, wide bowl, giving the Chardonnay time to hit every bit of your tongue. Drinking it straight out of the bottle isn't highly recommended, but if you don't have a glass, just make sure to pass it around.

How Should You Select a Chardonnay?

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly where to start if you're new to the Chardonnay game, simply because there's an array of tastes. All are usually dry, so you may want to start with an affordable bottle to begin. Many bottles are delicious and under $25. Pair these with light dishes such as fish, chicken, and shrimp.