Perfect Chardonnay Food Pairings

Perfect Chardonnay Food Pairings with Recipes

As America’s favorite white wine, chardonnay graces every restaurant wine list and many dinner tables across the country. This versatile grape can be fashioned into endless wine styles, from unoaked to heavily oaked and all in-between. Each style cozies up to different dishes, but numerous factors determine the success of a chardonnay food pairing, from alcohol levels, acidity and even the amount of oak aging.

First off, not all chardonnays are created equal when it comes to serving with a meal. Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, in his book Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food, writes that crisp acidity is the most crucial factor when pairing any wine with a dish, not just the queen of white wine. Acid can be a contrasting element by cutting through a rich, buttery or oily sauce; or a complementary nod to a tart dish, matching acid to acid. Oak usage in chardonnay is an age-old winemaking question but, with food match-ups, there is a definitive answer. “Lightly oaked wines,” Goldstein writes, “are the easiest to pair… I prefer wines that are low in oak [since] this creates a level playing field, allowing you more flexibility in matching your wine with different foods and methods of preparation.”

On a wine’s alcohol content and food pairing, he advises matching up wines and foods of equal weights. For instance, serving a low-alcohol chardonnay — under 14 percent — with a light seafood dish rather than a braised meat dish. In this scenario, the food and the wine both make their mutual statements.

Goldstein’s invaluable guide was published in 2006–a few months before I became the executive chef at Jordan Winery–and I’ve followed much of his wine and food pairing advice ever since. Balanced in all the right ways, Jordan Chardonnay offers a wine with crisp acidity, minimal oak influence and lower alcohol. We feel this white Burgundy-esque profile allows our cool-climate Russian River Valley fruit to shine through, and provides the opportunity to craft many ideal chardonnay food pairings. Here, we share a few of our favorite dishes, detailing why the matches are made in culinary heaven.

Love Cabernet? Be sure to read our article on Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings.

How to Create a Perfect Chardonnay Food Pairing

ahi tuna poke chardonnay food pairing ideas
A non-traditional ahi poke with tomatoes and quinoa to highlight chardonnay’s acidity.

Ahi Poke with Quinoa and Heirloom Tomatoes

There are classic seafood pairings with chardonnay, but ahi tuna is not generally one of them. In a healthy, a wine country twist, we create this unusual chardonnay food pairing using the oily fattiness of tuna, nutty quinoa and heirloom tomatoes. Our fruit-forward, high acid wine suits the texture of the fish and freshness of this recipe’s flavors. Increase the portion for the first or second course of a wine pairing dinner menu.

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Mushroom Soup for chardonnay food pairing
Mushroom soup is often paired with pinot noir, but this Yemeni-spiced recipe signs with chardonnay.

Wild Mushroom Soup with Hawaij Spice

Our fondness for wild mushrooms, many of which can be found on the Jordan Estate, is no secret. Their earthly umami flavors, otherworldly textures and natural beauty are unmatched. The fact that we can forage mushrooms from the winery property is a cherished and unexpected perk. Inspired by a recipe from World Spice Merchant’s “Silk Road Diary” while doing research for a winery event, we decided to develop this wild mushroom soup recipe with hawaij spice. Hawaij is a Yemenese spice blend found throughout the Middle East. Fragrant with cardamom, cumin and saffron, these earthy spices echo the light oak flavors found in a minimally oaked chardonnay. The additions of velvety crème fraiche, tart lemon juice and some wine build a pairing bridge to this exotic soup.

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asparagus recipe for chardonnay food pairing
Asparagus with hazelnuts brings out chardonnay’s toasted barrel notes.

Asparagus with Blood Orange and Toasted Hazelnuts

While the wine-averse reputation of this spring vegetable is well-known, asparagus can, indeed, make a delightful chardonnay wine pairing. We enjoy creating white or green asparagus recipes to showcase the food friendliness of Jordan Chardonnay. Roasting or grilling asparagus intensifies its natural sweetness and enhances this vegetarian wine match up, and the blood orange vinaigrette complements the wine’s citrus notes. An easy asparagus recipe for wine lovers, serve with roast chicken for a complete chardonnay-friendly meal or alongside any light fish dish.

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chicken wings with chardonnay wine
These chicken wings substitute citrus for intense spices to make them more wine friendly.

Citrus Spiced Fried Chicken Wings

Chicken wings with chardonnay? We say yes. This citrus-infused recipe is well worth the extra time and effort, combining subtle zesty, spicy and sweet flavors to create a natural food and wine pairing for crisp, white wines. Notice how the citrus in the marinade picks up the natural lemon acidity of the chardonnay grape.

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crab and beans chardonnay food pairing recipe
Crab is a classic chardonnay food pairing.

Crab with Cannellini Bean Salad and Citrus Vinaigrette

Chardonnay is best matched with dishes that complement its round, rich character, and the delicate opulence of crab checks that box. The ruby grapefruit, combined with the creamy textural element of the gently simmered cannellini beans, make for a ideal appetizer recipe for pairing with Jordan Chardonnay.

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snapper fish recipe for chardonnay pairing
Chardonnay’s acidity contrasts with the snapper’s cream sauce for a lovely food pairing.

Braised Leeks with Hawaiian Red Snapper

In the hills and valleys of Appalachia, the wild leek or ramp is the culinary harbinger of spring. This healthy leek recipe includes the great Red Snapper fish, called Onaga in Hawaiian, topped with a light sauce for a delicious food pairing with chardonnay. The first allium of the season, leeks taste like garlic and scallion, with a pungent and pleasing complexity. The allium family helps usher in the first element of this delicious chardonnay food pairing. The other elements are the judicious use of butter and light touch of cream, echoing the classic characteristics of the wine.

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crab and drawn butter with chardonnay
Chardonnay can also be used in a drawn butter to further enhance the food pairing.

Dungeness Crab Boil with Chardonnay Drawn Butter

This boiled crab recipe is sure to inspire your next dinner party or holiday menu. Mild shellfish offer a tasty tableau for chardonnay food pairings. We make the accompanying drawn butter with the same wine we’re pairing with it, to create the perfect appetizer or entrée for wine lovers. The natural acidity in the wine cuts through the fattiness of the drawn butter, and if the chardonnay has any malolactic fermentation, which many do, the buttery characteristics play off of each other. A classic chardonnay pairing that shouldn’t be missed.

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Growing up in Hawaii, Todd Knoll developed a strong connection to the land and the ocean at an early age. As executive chef at Jordan Winery, he grows hundreds of heirloom vegetables, fruits and herbs, cooks hors d’oeuvres and meals for guests, makes olive oil, and tends to the estate’s honeybees and chickens. A visual artist at heart, Chef Knoll spends his free time with his son and wife, Nitsa Knoll, exploring the diverse terrain of Sonoma County with camera and pencil in hand, capturing moments in nature to inspire his next recipe.

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