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With a creamy dish, do you prefer a buttery Chardonnay or a crisp one?

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Buttery or crisp Chardonnay with a creamy dinner?


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sour_grapes

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I have heard many people that express that they either love a buttery Chardonnay, and disdain a crisp one, or the opposite. For me, these two styles may as well be two different wines, and I like 'em both! I am capable of liking a Cabernet AND a Tempranillo, so why can't we like both a buttery Chard that has undergone MLF in an oaken barrel, as well as a crisp Chard that was fermented in stainless steel?

But the question at hand is pairing. I have heard BOTH that you should pair a buttery Chard with a creamy dish (to complement it) AND that you should pair a crisp Chard with a creamy dish (to "cut through the richness"). And vice versa with the pairing for, say, a lemony dish.

I had a conundrum today. I made a delectable crab pasta tonight. However, it was BOTH lemony AND rich. The ingredients included: mushrooms, shallots, garlic, crab meat, tarragon, lemon zest and juice, ricotta cheese, parsley, toasted panko crumbs, a reduction of shrimp stock, white wine, and sherry, and parmesan cheese. The sauce was creamy, but had a definite lemon edge to it. I opted for a butter bomb, and enjoyed it very much.

What is your opinion? Which style would you pull?
 
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Chuck E

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I was going crisp, until you spoke of lemon in the dish, then I flopped to buttery.
I had the same reaction as NorCal. I often use wines to balance the meal, hence lemon or vinegar in a dish gets the opposite type of wine. Heavy, buttery, or creamy gets the crisp/dry wine.
 

Boatboy24

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With a decision like that to be made, I could only move forward after thorough scientific testing. I'd open one of each.

But, being as we're still in Lent for a few more days, I'd probably have gone with lemon water.
 

mainshipfred

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The thing about Chardonny is if you bought 5 bottles they were probably all made differently. I think it's the varietal with the most differences. It's often times not one end of the scale or the other but somewhere in the middle. So Jim your should involve 5 wines in your study and John I'm with you on the Cab and Temp or some other white. I never have been a fan of Chardonny. Paul your dinner sounds delicious.
 

ibglowin

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Nothing better than a butter bomb chardonnay and wild alaskan salmon but lately I have been pairing more and more seafood dishes that have butter and lemon with crisp dry white wines with no MLF. The lemon shrimp dish I made last Sunday was paired with a dry Sauv Blanc as well as a dry rose' with the leftovers. Lovely either way.

There is no right or wrong pairing if you like it that is all that matters.
 

balatonwine

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so why can't we like both a buttery Chard that has undergone MLF in an oaken barrel, as well as a crisp Chard that was fermented in stainless steel?
Genetics.

Some people, such as supertasters, will experience the same wine completely differently than a non-taster and supertasters will often have much stronger impressions and opinions as a result.

Which is why, IMHO, the wine pairing issue is a non-starter. Too many supertasters telling us what to pair with what. I have explored more, and found I do not like what is often "recommended". Most of my "WOW" experiences occurred when I drift outside what is recommended. I am different. In fact most people are different. So explore and experiment more beyond what one is "told" is the "correct pairing". And I bet you will enjoy wine more. :)
 

winemaker81

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I'm invoking thread necromancy ....

The sauce was creamy, but had a definite lemon edge to it.
I voted "crisp" so the wine would stand up to the lemon. If there was no lemon, I'd probably go "buttery".

But ... as noted above, Chardonnay is variable, and there is no doubt I could find multiple examples of each that would go with the dish.

Although for a seafood dish, I prefer Vouvray ...

;)
 

winemaker81

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Which is why, IMHO, the wine pairing issue is a non-starter.
Yes and no.

The "no" first. General wine pairings exist for a reason. Red wine goes better with red meat than white wine, 'cuz the meat overpowers the white. Referring to my above semi-snarky comment, Vouvray goes well (in general) with seafood as the Loire Valley (France) is coastal and over the centuries the wine matched the common cuisine. Generally applied, the 'rules' make sense.

The "Yes"? My first thought was to argue with @balatonwine for the above reasons ... but once I started thinking of a response, I must agree more than not.

Taste is the big factor. Different folks have different tastes, and THAT is what is important.

My wife detests 99% of reds, so when we have steak, she drinks something else. I'm cool with that.

A friend is an excellent judge of Chardonnay. She hated Chardonnay, and the more she hated a given example, the better she knew her husband and I would like it. 😂 She loves reds and every other white on the planet, but Chardonnay is not her buddy.

Many moons ago I was in a bar/restaurant with friends -- we purchased several bottles (owner kept an interesting and ever changing stock) and we were comparing them. Kind of a mini-tasting over dinner. A couple sitting nearby apparently thought we were wine snobs, commented that they didn't like red wine, and asked what they should drink with their steak (they were not being snotty or anything). I surprised them when I told them, "white wine". "If you don't like red wine, don't drink it. Drink what YOU like."

Sure, I might prefer a steely Chardonnay vs a buttery one with a given dish. But hand me a glass, whatever is in it is fine with me.

Or go with Jim's suggestion -- open both and let's compare!
 

CDrew

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So for the original question, I'd vote no Chardonnay at all. A well made Sauvignon Blanc would get my vote. Enough acid to get through the cream and enough flavor to not get lost in the lemon. I'm waiting to find another great white wine. I'm hoping it's out there. I thought Roussanne might be it, it's said to be the red wine drinkers white wine. But so far, I'm not that impressed. I also think a dry sparkling wine would go great with the proposed crab pasta of the original post. In fact, I can taste it now...

But in the spirit of the original @sour_grapes post, I'd drink the same wine that went into the sauce. That would tie it together.

I've noticed that the "buttery" style of California Chardonnay is an endangered species, and you're either getting the quicky central valley "California" version with no depth of flavor, or the more austere and minerally white Burgundy style, which I like too. In contrast, I had a super good ZD Chardonnay recently that to me was a throwback to the "buttery" style of lore. Unfortunately, the really good California Chardonnay has gone to crazy money. But a good Sauvignon Blanc is still a buy most of the time.

Sorry to ramble, but good Chardonnay, in 2020, in my opinion, is rare and far between. Which is probably why I drink red wine with everything! There are no rules about this. Lol.
 

ibglowin

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If you are looking for something that is different but in some ways similar to Chardonnay I would suggest the long lost Rhone varietal "Picpoul" It has been up and coming here in the US for awhile but still hard to find unless your buying direct from the winery. Literally translated, Picpoul means “stings the lip,” referring to the grape's naturally sky-high acidity. It also has a creaminess or butteriness note to it. It can stand up to any seafood dish.

 

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