Chardonnay is one of the most popular and prolific wine grapes in the world. Easily the most popular white grape that is sold in the restaurant environment, knowing about the styles, regions and productions methods will help you become a better salesman in the hospitality environment.
Chardonnay is often at the mercy of the winemaker, as it is often influenced though winemaking techniques to fit the desired outcome. The most popular version of this wine is the one that sees oak and malo-lactic fermentation, giving it a distinctive “buttery” and “toasted” aroma and flavor. Unoaked chardonnay will be more mineral driven, being lighter on the palate and having more noticeable acidity. These are generalizations, and there are always exceptions to the rules.
Some of the more prolific wine regions that are famous for producing chardonnay are in California, France and Australia. Many more locations grow this grape, as it is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. Northern California, notably Napa and Sonoma counties, have a large amount of chardonnay plantings. The most prominent offerings hail from Burgundy, France, where a wide array of styles are found. Australia has a lot of chardonnay under vine and can be produced from truly serious and expensive offerings to cheap and cheerful.
Knowing where the offering comes from, the style it is produced in and often the producer who makes it is crucial to making a good chardonnay recommendation. Having command of key terms that describe the body style and amount of oak used to produced the wine will serve you well in the restaurant setting.