Learning how do you serve Chardonnay is straightforward. There are just a few simple steps to cover, and you’ll be ready for your next dinner party. This dry wine must be cooled (though not frozen) to be fully appreciated.
Step 1: Serve Chardonnay At The Ideal Wine Temperature
Your journey to learning how do you serve Chardonnay starts with serving temperature.
Serving Chardonnay at the optimal temperature is crucial to appreciate its complex flavors and aromas fully. The recommended temperature for serving Chardonnay is between 45-55°F (7-13°C) for the best wine experience. Like any other white wine, cooling Chardonnay is important, especially if the ambient room temperature is high.
Serving Chardonnay too cold can mask its aromas and flavors, while serving it too warm can make the wine taste flat and flabby. The ideal temperature range allows the wine to fully express its fruitiness and complexity while preserving its refreshing acidity. Consider using a bucket of ice water to keep the wine cool if you have the wine on a hot day.
It’s also essential to check whether your bottle of wine has unoaked Chardonnay or oaked Chardonnay. Oaked Chardonnay tends to have buttery flavors (and notes of vanilla), while a wine bottle of unoaked Chardonnay usually lacks a creamy texture. If you have had a rich Chardonnay with a creamy quality, that was probably an oaked Chardonnay.
Oaked Chardonnays tend to have a richer, fuller body with flavors of vanilla and toast, thanks to the oak aging process. When the wine has the chance to age in oak barrels (especially new barrels), it gains additional flavors. As a result, oaked Chardonnays are typically served slightly warmer than unoaked Chardonnays to bring out their full range of flavors.
Putting wine in your kitchen fridge for 15-30 minutes is often enough to chill Chardonnay. For more tips, see the following post: do you chill Chardonnay?
Serving Oaked Chardonnay At The Proper Temperature
The ideal serving temperature for oaked Chardonnay is between 50-55°F (10-13°C). Here are two examples of oaked Chardonnays and their ideal serving temperatures:
Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay: This California Chardonnay is aged in French oak barrels for nine months. The primary flavors include vanilla and baked apple. Its ideal serving temperature is 52°F (11°C).
Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet: This French Chardonnay from Burgundy is aged in oak barrels for 12-18 months, resulting in a complex wine with flavors of honey and hazelnut. Its ideal serving temperature is 54°F (12°C). This wine has 13% alcohol content.
Serving Unoaked Chardonnays At The Proper Temperature
Unoaked Chardonnays tend to have a lighter body with brighter, fruitier flavors and are typically served slightly cooler to enhance their freshness and acidity. These lighter wines are often produced in cool-climate regions like Ontario or Washington.
For the maximum enjoyment of wine, the ideal serving temperature for unoaked Chardonnay is between 45-50°F (7-10°C). Here are two examples of unoaked Chardonnays and their ideal serving temperatures:
Domaine William Fèvre Chablis: This French Chardonnay from Burgundy is unoaked, resulting in a crisp mineral wine with green apple and lemon flavors. Its ideal serving temperature is 47°F (8°C).
Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay: This Chilean Chardonnay is fermented with wild yeasts in stainless steel tanks, resulting in a fresh and fruity wine with flavors of tropical fruit and citrus. Its ideal serving temperature is 48°F (9°C).
Step 2: Choose The Right Food Pairings For Chardonnay
Like other white varieties, you can enjoy Chardonnay wine even more with the right food pairings. Wine lovers and wine producers recommend the following food pairings with Chardonnay.
Restaurant Tip: Choosing a bottle of wine at a restaurant? Before ordering the wine, ask which wines on the wine list are oaked Chardonnay and unoaked Chardonnay.
Unoaked Chardonnay Food Pairings
Unoaked Chardonnay is a lighter and crisper wine compared to its oaked counterpart. Its bright fruit flavors and refreshing acidity make it an excellent match for lighter dishes.
- Shellfish: Unoaked Chardonnay is a classic pairing for shellfish such as oysters, clams, and shrimp. The wine’s bright acidity and citrus flavors balance well with the briny and sweet flavors of the shellfish. The wine’s lighter body also complements the delicacy of the seafood.
- Grilled Fish: Grilled fish such as halibut or cod pairs well with unoaked Chardonnay. The wine’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors cut through the richness of the fish, while its light body complements the delicate flavors of the fish. Grilled vegetables such as asparagus or zucchini make a great side dish for this pairing.
- Salad: Unoaked Chardonnay is a refreshing pairing for salads, especially those with citrus-based dressings. The wine’s bright acidity and fruit flavors complement the acidity in the dressing and bring out the flavors of the salad ingredients. A simple salad of mixed greens, grapefruit, and avocado pairs beautifully with unoaked Chardonnay.
- Chicken or Turkey: Unoaked Chardonnay is a great match for poultry dishes such as chicken or turkey. The wine’s crisp acidity and fruit flavors balance well with the savory and herbaceous flavors of the poultry. A light cream sauce or herb butter can further enhance the pairing.
- Light Pasta Dishes: Unoaked Chardonnay pairs well with light pasta dishes such as spaghetti or linguine with clams. The wine’s bright acidity and citrus flavors balance well with the flavors of the pasta and bring out the flavors of the sauce. A sprinkling of herbs or grated cheese can further enhance the pairing.
Oaked Chardonnay Food Pairings
What if your wine cellar is full of oaked Chardonnay? Oak influences on wine introduce wonderful additional flavors. Raise your enjoyment of food by pairing oaked Chardonnay with the following foods.
- Roasted Chicken: Roasted chicken with buttery, crispy skin pairs perfectly with oaked Chardonnay. The wine’s richness and body balance well with the chicken’s savory and herbaceous flavors. This pairing is also excellent with roasted carrots, potatoes, and onions.
- Lobster: Lobster’s sweet and delicate flavor pairs beautifully with oaked Chardonnay’s toasty and nutty notes. The wine’s richness also complements the buttery and creamy flavors in the lobster. A buttery sauce or drawn butter can further enhance the pairing.
- Creamy Pasta: Creamy pasta dishes such as fettuccine Alfredo or carbonara pair well with oaked Chardonnay. The wine’s creamy texture and toasty flavors balance well with the sauce’s richness. A little bit of acidity in the wine can also cut through the creaminess of the pasta. Find out more about this pairing article: Wine With Pasta Carbonara.
- Grilled Salmon: The richness and body of oaked Chardonnay complement the bold flavors of grilled salmon. The toasty and nutty notes of the wine also complement the smokiness of the grilled fish. Grilled vegetables such as asparagus and zucchini make a great side dish for this pairing.
- Butternut Squash Soup: The buttery and nutty flavors of oaked Chardonnay pair perfectly with the creamy and savory flavors of butternut squash soup. The wine’s richness also complements the soup’s velvety texture. This pairing is perfect for a cozy fall evening.
How To Serve Chardonnay With Cheese
The wide range of Chardonnay wines means that this wine also works well with appetizers like a cheese platter.
As a full-bodied wine, Chardonnay tends to be best enjoyed with certain cheeses. Your guests may have different preferences, so I recommend offering a variety of styles of wine and cheese. Start with the following:
- Buttery cheeses like brie and camembert are best served with oaked Chardonnay wines
- Fresh cheeses like feta and goat cheese are best enjoyed with unoaked Chardonnay
How Do You Serve Chardonnay In Summary
There are just a few steps to keep in mind. Step 0: avoid bad wine – spend at least $20 to get a decent bottle. Next, chill the wine properly. Finally, enjoy the wine with food pairings that bring out the wine’s finer qualities.