Chardonnay, the top-selling wine in America by FAR, has fallen out of favor with a certain group of avid wine drinkers. That certain group would be those in the industry – Sommeliers, retailers, distributors, and many producers. Of course, none of them will admit it, as Chardonnay pays many of their salaries. But when it comes to selecting a wine they want to drink… different story.
I suspect this is the result of over-exposure (ask any parent about the effects of “Dora the Explorer Immersion Therapy”).
Or maybe it’s the “Rombauer Effect”, wherein a white wine is so big and bold you taste nothing else for days. These are Chardonnays designed to shout, to shove their way past all other distractions, grab your tastebuds and shake them until you’ve taken notice. In other words, not wines one gravitates toward if your business is the thoughtful sniffing and sipping of fine wines to discern each fine and elegant nuance.
But Chardonnay fans, Fall is your season to rejoice. Even those on the fence about these wines will have to admit they pair quite well with the sage-scented foods of fall – squash, baked pasta, pumpkin, turkey, carrot soup, yams/sweet potatoes, and etc. So here are a collection of links to some great fall recipes that will pair well with your Chardonnay. Oh, and if you’re short on Chard, here’s a helpful link to the Chardonnay “aisle” in my online wine shop.
Easy Butternut Squash Soup – “Once Upon a Chef”. these recipes from blogger and ex-chef Jennifer Segal are home-tested and feature her excellent photographs. That so many talents should find their way into a single amateur blogger is the beauty of the internet. If you’re a foodie, and even if you’re not, you really should subscribe to her email feed – you’ll be pleasantly teased by her photos in your inbox. They just might inspire you to enjoy a meal at home, whether on your own, with family, or a whole group. And encouraging such communal dining is a good thing. Put down your devices. Pick up your spoons. And dig in.
Butternut Squash Risotto – “Big Oven”. A ton of great fall recipes can be found here. Try them all. They’re easy. On this one, I prefer to include some bite-sized chunks of cooked squash to give the dish a bit of a toothsome, al-dente feel. And one can never go wrong if you give it a little Bam! of freshly crushed, dried thyme and/or sage (or better yet, the fresh version, roughly chopped before Bamming). Best as a side dish, as a little goes a long way.
Cedar Plank Salmon – “AllRecipes.com” – People often think Pinot Noir is the natural pairing for salmon. But in my experience that pairing can be like a bad Match.Com date. It all depends on the depth of the wine and the preparation method for the salmon. To play it safe, Chardonnay is a safer bet.
My Vancouverite brother was the first person to introduce me to this method of cooking salmon. For hundreds of years, this most iconic fish of the Great Northwest was traditionally fire-roasted atop a well-soaked cedar plank. Those native peoples knew what they were doing when it came to salmon, but when it comes to wine, you’d best leave it to me. The smoke and cedar/foresty aromas and flavors of this dish demand a wine of sufficient heft to match, so I recommend a new world Chardonnay with a good amount of oak, or a bit of time in the bottle, or both, such as the Diatom 2011 Hamon ($42), or the Pont de Chevalier, 2009 Knights Valley ($44).