Food & Wine Pairings for Chardonnay in Summer

Pull a bottle of Chardonnay from your wine cellar, to enjoy with a summer meal.

Summer is a great time to make frequent trips to your wine cellar or wine fridge. There are many terrific food and wine pairings that are especially ideal when it’s hot outside. Clean off your barbeque grill, clean the pool, and pull out your best patio cushions. It’s time to enjoy some Chardonnay wine with some of your favorite summer dishes.

3 Types of Chardonnay

Chardonnay is an exquisite, subtle wine, and the flavors can get lost if served with the wrong dishes. Chardonnay is the most planted white wine grape in the world. The tasting notes differ, depending on if you get oaked Chardonnay, unoaked Chardonnay, or sparkling Chardonnay. As with all wine, the region it’s grown in also contributes to the ultimate flavor.

Creamy oaked Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine. The tasting notes of these wines range from a rich profile of butterscotch, grilled pineapple, vanilla, and lush tropical fruit to a lighter profile of lemon curd, poached pear, textural chalky minerality, and baked apple. These wines are aged in oak. Descriptors for taste include butter, crème brûlée, vanilla, coconut, baked apple, butterscotch, and brioche. Ideal food pairings include creamy dishes like lobster bisque and mushroom risotto. Oaky Chardonnay wines usually need to rest in your wine cellar or wine fridge storage for 3 to 5 years, giving you a lot to look forward to.

Citrusy, unoaked Chardonnay is lighter and is an excellent pairing with oysters, scallops, and delicate flaky fish. The tastes of the various citrusy varieties range from fruity profiles like fresh pineapple, mango, and yellow apple to a floral, leaner profile of citrus peel, pear, green apple, and white flowers. There is more freshness and acidity in this type, which is usually fermented in stainless steel and settles for only a short time. Unoaked Chardonnay wines should usually be drunk while they are young, though a few can age for a decade or more, including some in Chablis. Tasting descriptors do not indicate oak.

Sparkling Chardonnay, which is used in Champagne and Blanc de Blancs (a French term that means “white from whites”), pairs beautifully with salty fried dishes, from fried chicken to calamari. The tasting notes for these wines range from a richer profile of yellow apple, hazelnut, toasted vanilla, honeycomb, and Meyer lemon to a leaner profile of honeysuckle, lime, minerals, and lemon zest. If this is the wine you want to enjoy on a summer day, look for 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs sparkling wines.

Know your wines, for best pairings

Part of the excitement of being a wine connoisseur is knowing which wines pair nicely with particular foods. A warm summer day can be especially enjoyable when you can pull a Chardonnay from your wine fridge or wine cellar and enjoy it with the perfect food pairings. It takes some know-how, to get it just right.