5 Top Pairings for Chardonnay

Recipes that make perfect partners for a wine with sass


I’ve been letting people know about my recent rediscovery of Chardonnay. While so many bottles get drained as a cocktail wine, the most successful of those will probably not appeal to me. The reason? They are made to be fruity and rich, so they’re generally a bit soft.

My new found flirtatious relationship with Chardonnay revolves around our dining together, and for that you need a partner with some sass. Bright with juicy acids, that’s what I’m looking for in my Chardonnay. When I find the right one, I’ll sit her down and share her over some gorgeous meals.

Check out these fabulous recipes and the wines they love!

Photo courtesy Robert S. Donovan via Flickr/CC


Pairs beautifully with:

Oysters Rockefeller

Oysters are a classic Chablis pairing, though there’s no “if it grows together, it goes together” kismet happening here since Chablis is a couple hundred miles from the nearest ocean. But, much of Chablis is panted on Kimmeridgian soil, which is made up of limestone, clay and tiny fossilized oyster shells!

So there’s a reason that this is good wine and food pairing. Though those old oyster shells may have a hand in it, it’s mostly because the wines can be rich yet precise, with mouth cleansing acids that battle the richness of the Rockefellers. You end up with a sweetly briny explosion of flavor!

Try it with these:

2009 La Chablisienne Chablis

2010 Moreau Chablis

Get the recipe!

Cool Climate Chardonnay

Pairs beautifully with:

Grilled Trout Fillets with Crunchy Pine Nut Lemon Topping

I had Trout Amandine in mind when I went searching for recipes, but happened upon this light riff on that style of preparation. Gone is the brown butter (boo), but in it’s place there is the depth of smoke from grilling with a fine blend of gentle nuttiness and bright citrus flavors. Perfect for the wine I had in mind.

That wine is a cool climate Chardonnay with just a touch of oak. I love examples from all over the world since this is the way I dig my Chard, bright with some rounded edges and a light dollop of nuttiness coming from the oak. You can find wines from New Zealand to Oregon, South Africa to Burgundy that would foot this bill.

Try it with these:

2009 Lange Estate Winery "Three Hills Cuvee" Chardonnay

2010 Rustenberg Chardonnay

Get the recipe!

Lightly Oaked or Naked Chardonnay

Pairs beautifully with:

Turkey Thighs Stuffed with Porcini, Sausage and Artichoke Hearts

Naked Chardonnay, or Chards that are lightly oaked and do not undergo full malolactic fermentation, are becoming increasingly popular due to their intense fruitiness and lack of creamy, buttery, nutty aromas and flavors. There’s a ready-built market willing to try these wines among the “I hate Chardonnay” people. They must think they’re missing something right?

Well, they are missing something, and with these wines that’s obviously the oak. This makes naked Chardonnay perfect for dishes that are both light and intense at the same time, particularly if things get a little spicy! Something that combines turkey and sausage for example might work wonders with an unoaked Chardonnay! I was thinking of a nice turkey breast with some sausage stuffing, but seeing as I prefer dark meat, this delicious looking recipe totally caught my eye. I can’t wait to make it!

Try it with these:

2010 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay

2009 Adelsheim Chardonnay

Get the recipe!

Full Blown Chardonnay

Pairs beautifully with:

Lobster Thermador

There’s not a lot that marries well with rich, intensely buttery Chardonnay. If you are going to try, you should be on the prowl for something rich, buttery and intense. Then again what rich, buttery thing isn’t going to be intense and hard to keep up with?

Chardonnay is a classic pairing for simple lobster with drawn butter or with my favorite, freshly made tarragon mayonnaise. But if we’re going to go for extravagant opulence, I’d have to vote for some classic Lobster Thermidor! It’s killer over pasta by the way, and any good Lobster mac ‘n cheese recipe would also be a worthy companion for this luxurious wine.

Try it with these:

2010 Freemark Abbey Chardonnay

2008 Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay

Get the recipe!

White Burgundy

Pairs beautifully with:

Veal Prince Orloff

And there is Burgundy. True, white Burgundy tends to be expensive, but the best wines offer such captivating balance, complexity and finesse that you find yourself making a commitment to them in no time. It’s like the Las Vegas wedding of wines, though in this case you wake up with fewer regrets!

In pairing white Burgundy, there are many dishes that work brilliantly. The combination of power and elegance affords leeway in pairing, though I like to look at the tender side of things and serve my white Burg with the absolutely delectable dish known as Veal Orloff, or Veal with Morel sauce as some friends prone to trashy nicknames put it.

It is a great dish, rich yet both delicate and complex, with an explosion of earthy goodness. The perfect foil for the precise fruit of a fine white Burgundy!

Try it with these:

2009 Joseph Drouhin White Burgundy

2009 Henri Boillot Chassagne Montrachet

Get the recipe!

Want to Learn More?

Check out the results of Pairing Wine with Pizza, part of our Fast Food & Wine Pairing series!

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  • Snooth User: lanberg
    36063 0

    Hey Greg, nice article... but how come you're not talking about Port today? Cheers, Luiz

    Jan 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

  • Snooth User: cosmoscaf
    256062 54

    Thank you for a more progressive approach to good Chardonnay. Yes, so very much of it is made in a way that just wastes the grape for people like me, and apparently you, too. C'est la vie. I'm glad they are getting what they want. But it's nice to see the more traditional styling celebrated here. And while the new world(s) is making really great Chard now, too, there is still a good deal of quality coming from Burgundy at affordable prices. See Olivier Leflaive's Les Sétilles (50/50 Montrachet / Mersault) or Les Deux Rives (Chablis). Seeing this article, I changed my mind about what we'll have with dinner tonight. Kung Fu Girl will forgive us this time, I'm sure.

    Jan 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM

  • My only question is about the '09 White burgundies. I haven't had much luck with near time vintages on Montrachets - on several tries I felt they were a little crispy and maybe needed a couple more years to settle down.

    Jan 29, 2012 at 12:02 PM

  • Snooth User: cosmoscaf
    256062 54

    Sedrick: I agree with you but also enjoy that edgy flavor. The Chablis, of course, are kind of defined by their crispness. What I have in the cellar cum laundry room are a couple '08's and a few earlier ones. I do not buy anything higher than about $30, and then only occasionally. But almost all of them get nearer five years before I pull the cork. It gets smoother and seems to gain some sophistication.

    Jan 29, 2012 at 9:49 PM

  • Dear Streetperson Sedrick
    I agree with you about keeping Montrachets a couple of years. I have noticed that the nervy citric boondoggle / future wonder that is our investment in 2007 Chassagne Montrachet is only now beginning to develop the requisite fullness. It'll probably be a further two years for the honeyed Meursault type flavours to show.

    Jan 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM

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