Chardonnay Food Pairings Guide: Rules and Recipes


For a Chardonnay lover, it’s a buzz-kill when your favorite white gets destroyed by the food it’s served with. One minute you’re loving the wine’s sweet fruit and round, harmonious flavors, and the next it tastes like bitter, alcoholic lemon water. Some white varieties are flexible at the table, and pair well with a wide variety of cuisines.

But Chardonnay’s subtle nature is easily overwhelmed by pungent foods. Pour it alongside the flavor equivalent of a noisy action flick, and it’s totally lost. What you want are quiet flavors—mild, subtle foods that are not too spicy, not too pungent and not too acidic. Bonus: pairing Chardonnay with foods that complement its rich, mild flavors makes the meal taste better, too. So here is our advice on how to create the best chardonnay food pairings that will make every bite worth it.

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Chardonnay Pairing |  Chardonnay Pairing Recipes  |

 Food & Wine Matching Chart  | Infographic

Seafood Pasta with Squid, Clams, and Tomatoes


Chardonnay Food Pairings
Dos and Don’ts

 

DO

– Serve Chardonnay with mild, buttery or creamy dishes.
– Pair Chardonnay with meaty fish (halibut, cod) and shellfish (lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops.)
– Pair Chardonnay with subtly flavored, simply seasoned poultry and pork dishes.
– Do complement oaky Chardonnay with foods that have toasty flavors, as from toasted nuts, pastry crust, – grilling or smoking.
– Pair crisp, delicate Chardonnay with simply flavored, simply prepared foods, such as baked fish or poultry with butter and herbs.
– Play to ripe Chardonnay’s impression of sweetness with ingredients such as corn, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and foods that are caramelized from roasting or grilling, like crisp-skinned roast chicken.
– Pair Chardonnay with dishes that have a silky texture, such as risottos and cream-enhanced soups, sauces and pastas

DON’T

– Pair Chardonnay with aggressively seasoned food. Avoid fresh or dried chilies and super spicy dishes, such as a lot of Indian, Chinese and Southeast Asian fare.
– Pair Chardonnay with bitter foods. Bitter greens and vegetables and spices like turmeric will make the wine taste sour.
– Pair Chardonnay with acidic foods, such as raw tomatoes, olives, capers, ceviche and tangy vinaigrettes and sauces.
– Pair Chardonnay with pungent or high-acid cheeses. Avoid funky, washed-rind cheeses (taleggio, Époisse) and aged goat and sheep’s cheese.
– Serve Chardonnay too cold, which dulls its pairing powers. Remove it from the ice bucket or refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes before pouring, and let it warm up to about 48 degrees.

 

Back to Top

la-crema-shrimp-grits-8

 


Chardonnay Food Pairings Recipes

Looking for inspiration on foods to pair with Chardonnay? Here’s a collection of our “greatest hits” to inspire your next dinner. These recipes have been created and tested to pair perfectly with our favorite white varietal.

Snacks, Salads and Appetizers

Greek Sweet Potato Fries
Roasting sweet potatoes concentrates their sweetness and caramelizes their natural sugars, making these a fantastic match for a toasty, ripe Chardonnay. This pairing is a terrific way to kick off to a fall or winter dinner. Serve the fries as finger food, with lots of napkins.
Wine match: La Crema Russian River Chardonnay

Winter White Salad
A creamy dressing, enriched with buttermilk and yogurt, gives this hearty salad the richness needed to stand up to Chardonnay. Apples and grapes make it fruity; cauliflower adds substance and pine nuts echo the wine’s toasty notes.
Wine match: La Crema Monterey Chardonnay

Grilled Pumpkin Salad
Light, very dry whites would taste bitter with this sweet, smoky salad, but smoky Chardonnay makes a perfect partner.
Wine match: La Crema Monterey Chardonnay

Main Dishes

Southern Shrimp and Grits
Corn in almost any form is a natural match for Chardonnay’s inherent sweetness. Here, stone-ground grits give this dish a creamy texture that harmonizes with the wine’s silkiness. Mild, lemony shrimp make the perfect foil.
Wine match: La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Yogurt-Marinated Apricot Chicken Skewers
There’s just a touch of subtle spice in these chicken and apricot skewers. That calls for a crisp, fruity style of Chardonnay that can handle both spice and sweetness.
Wine match: La Crema Monterey Chardonnay

Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese
This hearty, luxurious dish calls for a rich, elegant Chardonnay that won’t get clobbered by its cheesy, buttery goodness.
Wine match: La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Herbed-Crusted Cod with a Pea Puree
Peas are incredibly sweet, and when they’re pureed they create a creamy, mild foil for fish or poultry that is divine with Chardonnay.
Wine match: La Crema Arroyo Seco Chardonnay

Honeycrisp Apple Pizza with Balsamic Onions
This pairing relies on a simple trick: Pick up Chardonnay’s appley flavors by using apples in the dish. Because the dish has some sweetness, it definitely needs a ripe, fruity style of Chardonnay.
Wine match: La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Mini Lobster Pot Pie
Adding corn kernels to this decadent pot pie makes it especially friendly to Chardonnay. A full-bodied, generously oaked version stands up beautifully to the dish’s sweet lobster, buttery sauce and puff pastry crust.
Wine match: La Crema Russian River Chardonnay

Back to Top

The Fresh Prince of Brunch: Spring Greens, Edible Flowers, and Poached Eggs.


Chardonnay Food Pairings

It’s one thing to say that Chardonnay pairs well with chicken or fish, but that advice is so vague as to be nearly useless. How the food is prepared makes a crucial difference to the success of the pairing. What sort of seasonings and sauces are added? Is the food roasted, grilled, sautéed or poached? Every element of a dish can affect how it pairs with wine.

To take your Chardonnay food pairing to the next level, take a page from the sommelier playbook, and match the style of the wine you’re drinking with the dish. First, think about the kinds of foods that Chardonnay pairs well with, and the kinds you want to avoid. (For help, take a look at our Chardonnay Dos and Don’ts.) Then, consider the flavors in the wine, as well as its weight (body) and acidity. Light, crisp Chardonnays that don’t have a lot of oaky flavors (think toast, smoke, vanilla) taste best with lighter preparations; oaky, rich Chardonnays taste best with richer foods that echo the wine’s sweeter, toasty flavors.

For example, poached chicken with lemon and tarragon sauce pairs best with a light, citrusy Chardonnay; roasted chicken in an intense wine sauce calls for wine made in a richer, toastier style. Here are some go-to pairings for Chardonnays at either end of the style spectrum.

 

Food Chardonnay Style:
Crisp/Bright/Juicy
Chardonnay Style:
Ripe/Fruity/Rich
Appetizers
Cheeses
  • Brie
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Brie
  • Ricotta
  • Brillat-Savarin
  • Fontina
Vegetables & Legumes
  • Green Peas
  • White Beans
  • Zucchini
  • Edamame
  • Butternut
  • Squash
  • Carrots
  • Yams/Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Pumpkin
Fungi Truffles and Mushrooms
Fruits
  • Lemon
  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Peach
  • Mango
Pizza
  • White Pizza with Chicken, Mushrooms and Mozzarella
  • Mushroom & Brie Pizza
  • Caramelized Onion, Apple and Brie Pizza
  • Brie & Pear Pizza Four Cheese White Pizza
Pasta / Polenta / Risotto
  • Lemony Shrimp Risotto
  • Wild Mushroom & Herb Pasta
  • Spring Vegetable Risotto
  • Fettuccine with Scallops & White Wine Sauce
  • Pasta Creamy Chicken Sauce
  • Polenta with Beurre Blanc and Scallops
  • Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Creamy Pasta Primavera
  • Fettuccine with Scallops & Cream Sauce
  • Gnocchi with Brown-Butter & Sage Sauce
Pork
  • Roast Pork with Wine or Lemon
  • Pork Chop with Gremolata
  • Roast Pork with Cream or Apples
  • Pork Chop with Cream and Calvados
  • White Sausage (Boudin Blanc)
  • Hazelnut-Crusted Pork Chops
Poultry
  • Poached Chicken with Lemon Butter Sauce
  • Baked Chicken Breasts with Tarragon
  • Baked Chicken Thighs with Herbs & Mushrooms
  • Roast Chicken with Herbs
  • Wine-Braised Chicken with Mashed Potatoes
  • Grilled Lemon-Garlic Turkey
  • Pecan-Crusted Chicken
  • Roast Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing
  • Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
Salad
*Salad pairing tip: Use mild, creamy dressings; avoid tart vinaigrettes.
  • Chicken Salad with Grapes
  • Tarragon Lobster Salad
  • Poached Salmon Salad with Herby Crème Fraîche Dressing
  • Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad with Apples and Brie
  • Warm Scallop Salad with Mango and Hazelnuts
Sauce
  • Wine Sauce
  • Butter Sauce
  • Cream Sauce
  • Mild Cheese Sauce
Seafood
  • Sole with Butter & Lemon
  • Almond-Crusted Trout Crab Cakes with Herbs
  • Lobster with Drawn Butter
  • Pan-Seared Scallops
  • Classic Crab Roll
  • Baked/Poached Salmon Cod
  • Halibut with Brown Butter
  • Lobster/Scallops with Butter & Cream
  • Macadamia-Crusted Mahi-Mahi
  • Seared Sea Bass on Potato Puree
  • Lobster Pot Pie
Soup

  • Vichyssoise
  • Creamy Vegetable Soup
  • Pureed White Bean Soup
  • Seafood Bisque
  • Corn Chowder
  • Butternut Squash Soup

Back to Top


Chardonnay pairing is a fun and delicious skill to learn and this infographic is a great way to get your tastebuds started. Share this with all of the Chardonnay lovers in your life:

Chardonnay Food Pairings Infographic - La Crema

 

Download this infographic.

Back to Top

Comments

comments