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All your questions about Chardonnay, answered!

  • by Mikela Dennison
It's not unusual for people to have questions about wine; how to store, serve, and pair, it can all be a little overwhelming! In this post, we answer your most common questions about one of our favourite wine varietals, Chardonnay. 
All about Chardonnay:
Did you know that Chardonnay is the most commonly planted white wine varietal in the world? Originally grown and planted in the famous Champagne region of France, the name Chardonnay means “place of thistles” or “thistle covered place.”
Chardonnay is often called a "winemakers' wine", because the grape itself has a relatively neutral flavour profile. Therefore, using a range of winemaking (or 'vinous') techniques, such as ageing the wine in oak barrels or letting the wine spend time on lees (expired yeast) to build texture and weight, can bring out the desired characteristics such as richness, oak influence, and that creamy mouthfeel that lots of people love with their Chardonnay. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Chardonnay:

  • What are the best food matches for Chardonnay? The classic food pairings for oaked Chardonnay (like our te Pa and Reserve Chardonnay) are chicken, and white fish. Those are pretty broad recommendations though! We'd go one step further and recommend hearty white fish such as blue cod, and with a range of luscious shellfish, particularly lobster / crayfish, prawns / shrimp and scampi, and scallops. For chicken fans, Chardonnay is very complimentary for a range of chicken dishes; think lovely sage and butter chicken, creamy sauce over baked chicken breast or thigh, or a simple poached chicken with fresh herbs. For unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay (like our Pa Road or Koha Chardonnay) you can go with more classic white wine pairings like you'd choose for Sauvignon Blanc (oysters, lighter salads, goats' cheese).
  • What's the ideal temperature to serve Chardonnay at? It's all well and good to say that the optimum temperature at which to serve Chardonnay is 9 degrees celsius (50 degrees F) but we think that it's more helpful to know how long you should actually pop your bottle in the fridge for! Generally speaking, half an hour / 30 minutes in the fridge is a great rule of thumb to get your favourite Chardy to the right temperature. It's easy to make the mistake of serving your Chardonnay too cold, which really pushes down and reduces its beautiful aromatics. 
  • What's the difference between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay?  This is a really common question, and it's one worth knowing the answer to. Chardonnay is a relatively neutral grape varietal, so it benefits from time in contact with oak. The creamy, almost buttery / nutty characteristic that die-hard Chardonnay fans love about this wine, comes from time in barrels, and from lees-stirring which creates texture and character in the wine. Some people do prefer a more lightly oaked Chard (like our Koha Chardonnay) or no oak at all - it's a matter of personal preference and taste! Unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay tends to be crisper and more refreshing in style than its oaked counterpart which is more rich and mouth-filling. Make sure you read the back label of a wine as this should give you information about its oak-influence. 
  • How long can you age / cellar / store Chardonnay? Typically speaking, you can keep Chardonnay for 2 - 3 years, if it's stored in a dark, dry, temperature regulated space. Temperature wise, a space with a constant / near constant temperature of about 12.8 degrees celsius (55 degree F) is said to be 'near perfect' for wine storage. Higher quality Chardonnay, like our Reserve Collection Chard, can happily be cellared in the same conditions for 5 - 7 years from the time of bottling. This article from the very smart minds at Wine Spectator have a great article with more tips and tricks for storing wine. Click here to have a read. 


Did we answer your most burning questions about Chardonnay? Let us know what other questions you have and we'll add them to our next post! You can shop our full range of oaked, and lightly oaked Chardonnay on our online store, and in supermarkets around New Zealand. 

Get in touch with our friendly customer service team for your local or international stockists, and for all trade interest, please get in touch directly. 

Tagged with: wine and food

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