Chardonnay food pairings

Published December 7th, 2022

Chardonnay is one of the most widespread white grape varieties in the world.

Chardonnay food pairings.

Although its origins are in reality uncertain, experts agree in affirming that the first Chardonnay vine was originally from Burgundy, cultivated in an abbey of Cistercian monks near Pontigny.

From this area of France, over the decades, Chardonnay has been exported to many parts of the world, especially arriving in California, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, and South America. It is a very versatile grape that can tolerate very different climates, it adapts well to different types of soil and different production techniques.

It has unfortunately suffered from a bad reputation in the past due to an excess of oak in some wines, but the trend is changing and winemakers around the world are looking to produce a more elegant and balanced style of wine with integrated and non-dominant woody aromas.

Today the market offers excellent Chardonnays ranging from young and fresh wines with a distinctive fruity character to richer wines capable of aging for decades. Precisely thanks to this enormous versatility and the great variety of wines produced, pairing food with Chardonnay allows plenty of choice and experimentation.

In this article, we will tell you about the different styles of wine, their characteristics, and the most appropriate Chardonnay food pairings.

Chardonnay food pairings: the basics

Burgundy is the spiritual home of Chardonnay and the best Burgundy whites are dry, rich, and full-bodied wines of great balance and elegance. They are undoubtedly among the finest white wines in the world, with important aging potential. After Burgundy, the finest Chardonnays come from California, where it produces more powerful and structured wines than the Cote d'Or. Nonetheless, Chardonnay is grown all over the world with different flavors and characteristics depending on the climate and style and is also one of the fundamental grape varieties of Champagne.

Different styles of wine will result in different food pairings but in general, Chardonnay pairs well with delicately flavored foods with a medium to light texture, like fish and poultry and many vegetarian dishes.  Best food with chardonnay won’t be too spicy, too pungent, or too acidic.

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Young, unoaked Chardonnay food pairing

When Chardonnay is grown in cold climates and aged in steel, this grape variety expresses a lean and mineral character with aromas of fresh fruit, such as citrus, apple, and pear. The resulting wines are fairly light with a refreshing and thirst-quenching acid vein.

These are wines that recall the characteristics of Pinot Grigio but with a bit more structure, or Sauvignon Blanc but much less green. They are perfect as an aperitif, with appetizers, or with delicate fish and vegetarian dishes, which do not overwhelm the elegance of their flavors.

This style of Chardonnay is generally produced in the Chablis and Macon wine regions of Burgundy, Northern Italy, and Oregon in the USA, but also in parts of Western Australia and Chile.

Best choices for a young, unoaked Chardonnay food match:

  • steamed shellfish

  • sushi and sashimi

  • fried freshwater fish

  • pasta with clams

  • risotto with seafood

  • turkey or chicken salad

  • fresh cheeses

  • ricotta and spinach tart

Fruity Chardonnay food pairing

In warm climates, Chardonnay produces wines with flavors and aromas of tropical fruit, such as melon, mango, and pineapple, and a rounder mouthfeel. These are well-balanced and harmonious wines, with good acidity but also a great concentration of fruit and a good body.

Here, the structure of the wine is not given by the passage in wood, but rather by the degree of ripeness of the grapes. This is the style produced in many New World countries such as New Zealand or Australia, but also in Italy, especially in Sicily.

The sweetish notes of a fruity Chardonnay go perfectly with tasty fish dishes and white meat preparations of medium complexity.

Try one of these dishes for a great Chardonnay and food pairing with fruity wines:

  • tuna fish

  • vegetarian risotto

  • quiche lorraine

  • white pizza with vegetables

  • lobster

  • pumpkin tortelli

  • roast chicken

  • sweet potatoes

Oaked Chardonnay food pairing

Chardonnay loves to age in wood, especially in oak barrels. The slow oxygenation that takes place in the oak barrels adds complexity and fullness to the wine. While the toasted notes of the oak add spicy and buttery aromas giving the chardonnay a unique character.

The great wines of Burgundy as well as the Californian Chardonnays are almost always aged in wood before bottling. The use of new or used barriques and the time spent in the barrel affect how the wood aromas blend.

Aged Chardonnays are generally full-bodied wines with moderate acidity and intense aromas of sweet spices and toasted notes. This style is typically found in South Africa, America, and Argentina.

Choose one one of these dishes for the best oaky chardonnay food pairing:

Chardonnay pairing: what to avoid

Despite its great versatility, it's easy to go completely wrong when pairing food with Chardonnay.

Chardonnay wines have common characteristics which make them not very tolerant of spicy dishes typical of Asian cuisine. Chardonnays also do not like very acidic foods such as tomatoes or recipes that include vinegar. Avoid any Chardonnay pairing with food like pungent cheese, or smoked or bitter ingredients that would overpower the fruitiness of this grape.

For a perfect Chardonnay wine pairing, it's also important to pay attention to how you serve the wine. Temperatures that are too low can highlight the acidic vein or the woody notes too much and instead hide the fruity scents, making the wine harsher and less food friendly.

Pair Chardonnay with sushi.

Pair Chardonnay with fish

Pairing wine and fish always requires special attention. The body of the wine must be proportionate to the structure of the dish. Therefore it is necessary to combine elegant and fresh wines with delicate dishes, and wines of greater structure and complexity with richer preparations.

Young and fruity Chardonnays are ideal for sushi, and recipes involving citrus sauces such as lemon sea bass. Fatty fish such as salmon, or those dishes that include creamy sauces require a Chardonnay aged in wood.

Our suggestion: California Chardonnay, Robert Mondavi Private Selection

Pair Chardonnay with seafood

Seafood can create the tastiest and most excellent food pairings with Chardonnay, especially with a fresh and young wine, capable of harmonizing the different sensations that a plate of mollusks or crustaceans can offer. Better to choose simple condiments, based on garlic and parsley and opt for a wine with good minerality like a Chablis.

Our suggestion: Chablis AOC “Cellier du Valvan”, Louis Jadot

Pair Chardonnay with chicken.

Pair Chardonnay with chicken

As a general rule, white meat is probably the best food to pair with Chardonnay, which thanks to its good structure and intensity of flavors can enhance this rather delicate meat without overwhelming it. But by now we have learned that the seasoning and the type of cooking can make a big difference in pairing with wine.

Buttery Chardonnay food pairing should be with rich dishes with creamy sauces, while lighter recipes like chicken salads or pan-fried chicken breast are ideal with a crisp, and refreshing wine.

Our suggestion: Rully Blanc "La Martelle", Domaine Roux

Check out our article dedicated to Chciken Marsala wine pairing, where Chardonnay is the protagonist.

Chardonnay and cheese

The richness and high acidity of Chardonnay make it one of the best white wines to pair with cheeses. And because the Chardonnay style varies widely, there are many pairings with cheese.

As a general rule, oaked wines are best paired with cheeses with buttery or nutty notes, and light, fruity ones with soft, fresh cheeses. But to know which Chardonnay wine food pairing is best for each cheese, check out our specific article on the subject.

mac and cheese pairing with Chardonnay.

Appetizers to pair with Chardonnay

Thanks to its great versatility, Chardonnay is an excellent wine to serve as an aperitif together with snacks, appetizers, and finger foods. The best Chardonnay appetizer pairing, however, will be with a bottle of fresh and light wine and therefore a non-oaked Chardonnay, which is crunchy and refreshing but not too demanding.

Snacks that pair well with Chardonnay include olives, vegetable chips, and nachos. But there is also a long list of finger foods that pair with Chardonnay: rice balls, mac and cheese or mozzarella bites, chicken meatballs, coconut shrimps...

Our suggestion: Venezia Giulia Chardonnay IGT, Jermann

Chardonnay vegetarian food pairing

Vegetarian food pairing with Chardonnay is always successful. The wine consistency and the freshness of its aromas enhance the delicacy of many vegetable-based recipes. The roundness of the wine also goes well with those vegetables such as pumpkin that have a sweet background. However, it is always better to choose a fruity, mineral, fresh and savory wine, perhaps with some herbaceous notes such as Chardonnay from cold climate areas.

Our suggestion: Pfälzer Landwein Chardonnay "R Pure", Weingut Seckinger


Chardonnay is not only one of the most appreciated white wines in the world but also one that goes well with a large variety of foods, both because it is produced in very different styles and because its characteristics make it very versatile.

In this article, we have brought you our favorite Chardonnay food pairings. Now it's your turn to uncork the next bottle and decide what you like your Chardonnay best paired with!