Monday, 20 May 2024

Foodie Freak: Chardonnay




You’ve already thought about it and figured out the celebrity that I think best represents Chardonnay, haven’t you? Yes, you are right, Chardonnay is completely Kim Kardashian. It’s almost a no-brainer.

When I talked to winemakers about doing a celebrity comparison they tended to comment that Chardonnay would be hard to compare to just one celebrity since Chardonnays are so vastly different from winery to winery just one celebrity wouldn’t be able to represent them all.

To be completely accurate for this comparison I did my usual “cyber-stalking” of Kim Kardashian, looking for any and every fact that I could about her. I even watched several episodes of “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” to be thorough. Everything I learned just reinforced my belief that I made the right wine/celebrity comparison this week.

Kim Kardashian is an actress, consultant, businesswoman, model and spokesperson. She’s actually far more hard working, intelligent and talented than most people give her credit for. Chardonnay is the same way, in that people have become accustomed to a shallow, uninspired Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is classified as one of France’s “noble grapes,” and the term means a grape that produces a high quality wine. America doesn’t have a nobility class but our celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, are essentially our nobility.

Let’s face it: trend-wise, Chardonnay has had its moment in the limelight. These days if you admit that you like Chardonnay it’s like admitting that you watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians” – you expect people to look at you, make an odd face, and say “Really? Why?” One recent description about Chardonnay mentioned how people currently like to “diss on it” and that it’s getting “blinged out” (what can I say, Gary Vaynerchuk can be very entertaining).

But how can you not think the same thing about Kim Kardashian as being “Dissed on” and “Blinged out”? Like Chardonnay, we love to hate her. But I think it’s time to look at both with fresh eyes and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Looking at a glassful of Chardonnay or at Kim Kardashian is almost dreamlike. It’s like they both give off more light than they take in, and trying to describe them is like describing something made of light. In my opinion Kim Kardashian is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and I couldn’t imagine improving her in any way.

A talented winemaker can do the same thing with the Chardonnay grape, making the most perfect wine you can imagine with no ideas how to improve on it. The problem with Chardonnay’s reputation is that in the past winemakers followed the public’s taste for more oak in the wine but took it too far, to the point where it could attract termites.

Consumers have become so accustomed to heavy oak in Chardonnay that I once saw a person try to send a wine back claiming, “This isn’t a Chardonnay!” because it wasn’t oaky. Chardonnay grapes don’t taste like oak. People eventually grew tired of that quality and moved away from it, but still equate Chardonnays with an oaky flavor.

That’s the same problem with Kim Kardashian. People formed an opinion about her and have fused it in their minds. Both Chardonnay and Kim Kardashian have had awkward things happen to them, but they have both moved on. Unfortunately, the general public hasn’t changed it’s opinion on either of them.

I personally look at Chardonnay as a litmus test for a winemaker. I will taste a Chardonnay and, I admit it, I still look for “the oak monster” myself. If it’s not too heavily oak flavored I then examine the complexity of the wine, and how much of the chardonnay grape comes through as opposed to how much of the winemaking process comes through.

If I like the Chardonnay then I look forward to the rest of the wines at the winery. It’s as if my subconscious is soothed with “The winemaker did Chardonnay well, so they can probably do anything well.”

Still, both Chardonnay and Kim Kardashian get inaccurate and untruthful press now-a-days, even though most of the information is not true. Spousal abuse, bad relationships, they’re all inaccurate; poor Chardonnay. Then there are the rumors about Kim Kardashian ...

Descriptors you will find for Chardonnay can be butter, cream, nuts and minerals. Those are all staple flavors you will find in most Chardonnays, but individual wines could have more specifically: almonds, apple, apricot, banana, burnt wood, buttered popcorn, candied ginger, canned corn, caramel, citrus, crème brule, crème frais, custard, flint, green leaves, golden pear, jasmine, “Jolly Rancher” candies, kaffir lime, kiwi, lemon, limestone, melon, nutmeg, ocean, oranges, passion fruit, peach, pear, pie crust, quince, smoke, pineapple, toasted marshmallow, tropical fruit, vanilla, walnuts and

of course, wood.

Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine that’s big both coming and going, in comparison to Kim Kardashian who … has nice eyes.

Keep your eye out for a less oaky Chardonnay. Instead of aging entirely in oak barrels and additional oak chips, look for a wine that’s aged partially in oak and partially in steel, or you can even find Chardonnay aged entirely in steel without a hint of oak.

Just like Kim Kardashian Chardonnay might not be what you are expecting, so give them another try.

Lake County Chardonnay

Ceago Vinegarden

Cleavage Creek Winery

Langtry Estate and Vineyards

Ployez Winery (Chardonnay Wine and Chardonnay Sparkling Brut)

Robledo Family Winery

Rosa D’Oro Vineyards

Shannon Ridge Vineyards and Winery

Steele Wines

Terrill Cellars

Tulip Hill Winery (Lake County Winery, not a Lake County wine)

Wildhurst Vineyards

Ross A. Christensen is an award-winning gardener and gourmet cook. He is the author of "Sushi A to Z, The Ultimate Guide" and is currently working on a new book. He has been a public speaker for many years and enjoys being involved in the community. Follow him on Twitter, .

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