Ready to bundle up and snuggle on the couch this holiday season? The holidays are about giving and letting our loved ones know how much we care. What better way to let them know than with a bottle of wine? Here at Swig we are dedicated to helping you pick the best bottles of wine for the holidays and the cool December days ahead. Our suggestion for this month of revelry and celebration is Chardonnay.
Chances are if you aren’t a fan of Chardonnay, you probably just haven’t had the right one yet! Chardonnay comes in many styles and profiles that it could be considered the “chameleon” of the wine world. Chardonnay tends to be higher in alcohol compared to most white wines, ranging anywhere from 12% to a whopping 15%, and can have green apple, bright citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Everything else you experience usually comes from oak aging, which adds flavors of baking spices, vanilla and even butter because malolactic fermentation gives Chardonnay a creamier profile. But why drink Chardonnay during the holidays? It’s easy to find, really easy to drink, a great bargain wine and overall a great pairing with food.
Holiday foods tend to be the biggest, richest and most flavorful dishes people eat during the year. With dishes like roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, Chardonnay is a great pairing because it can have high acid and many fruity flavors to complement all the richness of those dishes. It also goes well with creamy desserts for the same reasons. While in the midst of cooking these rich dishes perfect for the holidays, chances are you might get a phone call from a family member asking, “What wine should we bring?” Luckily, we have some suggestions to make that situation a bit easier this December.
Almost every winemaking country grows Chardonnay. Chardonnay is one of the easiest wines to find in any supermarket, wine shop or restaurant and because of this, finding a good one can be hard to do. One key place to start when selecting a bottle of Chardonnay is the region it comes from, which will let you know what it’s like and if you should buy it.
The two biggest areas for Chardonnay are France and the United States. Most of the French Chardonnay you see is going to be from Bourgogne (Burgundy). Bourgogne Chardonnay can range from a cheaper bottle for $10-12, or an expensive bottle from Grand Cru, which is going to be a lot more. These wines tend to have baking spice, citrus and green apple notes. Just think Creme Brûlée with baked apples on the side. They can be decadent when done correctly. Now, if you go north to Chablis, you will find a leaner style of Chardonnay more focused on the fruit and acidic profile of the grapes. These are going to highlight the citrus notes with emphasis on lemon peels, lime zest and tart green apple. These wines tend to be zingers because many of them are unoaked completely.
The United States, mainly California, is known for big, buttery, round Chardonnays featuring the oak. These Chardonnays have vanilla and butter flavors, think fried chicken and vanilla ice cream. These wines are great pairings with both fried and roasted dishes and can even stand up to red meat if it they have high enough acid. California Chardonnays also tend to be full bodied reaching alcohol levels of over 14% on occasion. Sometimes you will find producers that try to emulate a more French style of wine but the big name Chardonnays adhere to the California standard.
If you are looking for a wine to feature on your table for the holidays this December, definitely look for a Chardonnay or two. Try the different styles of Chardonnay to please your crowd and loved ones!
Top image via Vine Pair