When it comes to shopping for Christmas wine, most people stick to the tried and tested favourites. For some, it’s all about the fizz, whether Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, for others it’s about a nice red to go with dinner.
If you’re looking to simplify the Christmas wine options, then you could look at resurrecting an old favourite with a nice Chardonnay. There are plenty of options for this wine, particularly when it comes to looking for something that will be a good all-rounder.
What is Chardonnay?
Having been very popular a couple of decades ago, Chardonnay somewhat went out of style over recent years. However, it’s long been due a comeback, so why not at Christmas time?
Chardonnay is a very neutral grape. It’s known as a ‘winemaker’s grape’ as it’s relatively easy to grow. It’s also very adaptable and can be made into different styles of wine, ranging from crisp and fresh to buttery oak. When fermented, Chardonnay grapes have notes of green apple, and sometimes tropical flavours such as pineapple.
If a second fermentation is processed, then the tart green apple notes transform to buttery oaky creaminess. Some winemakers alter the style even further by ageing it in oak barrels. This adds further flavours such as vanilla, caramel, butterscotch and toast.
Choosing a Chardonnay
For those who like their wine light, then a Chablis is a good choice. For a very fresh taste, choose a recent vintage. Both 2016 and 2017 were good years, according to experts. It goes with anything light and is perfect for the fish course.
For a creamier, fuller style of white, you could go for the pricier option of a Chassagne-montrachet. To keep the budget down, try Vire-Clesse or Macon-Vergisson from the Maconnais region in central France.
Elegant varieties of Chardonnay can also be found from South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Any are good with turkey, if you don’t want another red wine, and go spectacularly with the traditional leftovers.
If you’re not sure Chardonnay is for you – perhaps you find the deep, oaky flavour a bit much – then try one from the Jura, on the Swiss/French border. These have an almost savoury, nutty flavour that means they go well with cheese.