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The Honest Guide to Grapes: Chardonnay

Whenever I refer to wine books for information about the many and varied varieties of vitis vinifera I never find anything useful. They tell you where it’s most famously grown, they tell you some imaginary aromas that the wine supposedly possesses, they tell you other names for it, but what does that get you? You can’t impress your wine ignorant friends with that sort of knowledge. They are so impressed that you have a wine club membership, you can’t appear clueless! They turn to you for recommendations of the cheap crap that’s sold at neighborhood gas stations. (Wow, is BP Chardonnay really that good?! It must be, it has Phthalates listed on the label ingredients!) They trust you! They buy all their wines based on your “I can’t really be bothered to actually say something useful” 140-character Tweets about the wines you taste from a sippy cup. So it’s time you learned a little bit more about the grapes that make the wines we love. Useful stuff this time, not that tired old British MW crap.


What are we looking for when we taste a Chardonnay? Me, I’m looking for an excuse not to like it. I’m Simon Cowell and every Chardonnay is a contestant on “American Idol.” I’m a Republican and every Chardonnay is a National Health Care plan. I’m Donald Trump and every Chardonnay is a hair stylist. Everyone tries not to like Chardonnay, but it’s still wildly popular. Like airport security.

Interesting Chardonnay facts:

—They try to sell the crappy ones by calling them “Burgundian.” This is perfectly appropriate as a way to insult the French, who so richly deserve it.

—Chardonnay is considered one of the Noble Grapes. This was 19th Century marketing. It’s no more noble than French Colombard except that it denies its nationality. I much prefer German Colombard, which nearly destroyed London in WW II.

—Chardonnay is particularly suited for seafood. Tuna drink it by the boatload.

Other Names for Chardonnay:

Cougar Juice

White Slavery

Beaune Disease

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