I had been drinking a lot of red wine over the winter, which seems to be a recurring theme with me.
But when the first really warm day of 2018 arrived a couple of weeks ago, I instinctively reached for a bottle of Chardonnay. I put it in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes to cool it off just a little bit, then opened it and enjoyed it with a baked chicken breast topped with basil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
It was an incredibly simple-to-prepare meal that was elevated by the perfect wine for drinking with chicken: Chardonnay.
America’s most popular white wine got that way because of its versatility. Not only does it pair beautifully with everything from chicken to shellfish, and from creamy pasta dishes to many vegetarian dishes, but it also is an exceptional sipping wine.
There’s also an aura of mystery about the varietal, the result of it taking on a number of “personalities” based on a number of factors. I can’t think of another variety that can be crafted in so many styles: rich and creamy… lean and mean… fruit forward… oak influenced.
Factors include where it’s grown, how it’s handled during fermentation, the type of vessels in which it’s aged, and winemaker preferences. Some wineries become known for a specific style of Chardonnay that’s consistent from vintage to vintage and recognizable in blind tastings.
I love the fact that Chardonnay always delivers an enjoyable drinking experience, regardless of the style and whether it’s part of a meal or savored solo.
With National Chardonnay Day just four days away, I’ll have one more reason to open a bottle of delicious wine — regardless of the weather that day.