We've all heard about Chardonnay; it's the quintessential white wine. There are so many things about Chardonnay though that aren't common knowledge. To make sure we start off on the same foot, Chardonnay is not a place in France, but is the actual grape variety itself, it's confusing, we know.
Below are our top 3 fast facts about the either loved or hated wine.
It can grow most anywhere!
Chardonnay is a variety that can grow most places, and explains why it is one of the most common white varieties planted globally. There are not many countries that aren't planting Chardonnay from the US to France to Argentina to Australia. You can get a Chardonnay from all around, but don't be tricked - they all taste different. Have you had a Chardonnay you hate? Before you throw in the towel for Chardonnay, give it another shot from another region (and better yet try a region with a different climate). Chardonnay even grows in our great state of North Carolina. We have a lot of it growing in North Carolina, so check out a local Chardonnay!
It is the grape used to make Champagne!
We know it is super confusing on what wine is named by a place and what wine is named by a grape. How many times have you mixed up the names Chardonnay and Champagne? Well don't fret, they are actually the same base. Traditional Champagne (Champagne is a region in France) can only be made from three grape varieties, THREE. What is the top of those three? Good ole Chardonnay, followed by Pinot Noir and Pinot Meuiner. Now you are on to people that drink Champagne but say they hate Chardonnay. Liars.
and for the biggie... It doesn't have to taste like butter!
This is the number one complaint I hear about Chardonnay. Unless you have been enjoying Chardonnay since the start of the butter craze in California decades ago, the butter trend is going away. Because of this, most turn up their nose to a glass of Chardonnay. Warning: dorking out on your real quick. With wine you have primary aromas/tastes, secondary aromas/tastes, and tertiary aromas/tastes. Primary would be characteristic of the grape itself and commonly include the black pepper characteristic. Chardonnay as a grape does not have any butter characteristics, but rather fruity and tropical flavors. Secondary characteristics are the aromas gleaned from the process of fermentation and oak aging. With all the chemical processes occurring during fermentation and oak aging, molecules change and create new aromas. The oak aging of Chardonnay is the culprit of adding the butter. The butter characteristic is actually the compound diacetyl. All that being said, if you don't like the butter, get a Chardonnay that hasn't been oak aged. We recommend trying a Chablis! (For those on the edge of their seats, tertiary comes from aging in the bottle and can also be coined 'bouquet').
I hope you were able to learn something new about Chardonnay. So let's toast to the most versatile grape, Cheers!