How to Pair Chardonnay with Food

Chardonnay is one of the most popular wine varieties in the world. In fact, it is the most widely planted white grape variety here in Washington State. This food friendly white wine also happens to complement a number of my favorite dishes! To create the ultimate match, here are some easy tips to pair chardonnay with food.

Chardonnay Food Pairing
Shrimp Risotto and Chardonnay are a great match

Flavors in Chardonnay

Match Chardonnay with food using similar or contrasting flavors.
♦ Pear ♦ Lemon ♦ Apple ♦ Pineapple ♦ Vanilla ♦ Butter

Base Ingredients

Select a base ingredient that is likely to match with the variety.
♦ Crab ♦ Shrimp ♦ Scallops ♦ Mussels ♦ Halibut ♦ Salmon
♦ Chicken ♦ Turkey ♦ Quail ♦ Lobster

Bridge Ingredients

And/or use these bridge ingredients:
Tip: select one or just a few. A dish that’s too busy competes with the wine rather than complements it.
♦ Apple ♦ Pear ♦ Fennel ♦ Citrus ♦ Corn ♦ Dijon Mustard ♦ Vanilla
♦ Dairy ♦ Roasted Garlic ♦ Parmesan ♦ Swiss Cheese

Suggested to Pair Chardonnay with Food

When we’re in a celebratory mood at our house, I make a batch of crab cakes and break out a lightly oaked chardonnay. This pairing is THE way to celebrate a special occasion! Buttered corn makes a terrific side.

Food Pairing for Chardonnay
Crab Cakes and Chardonnay are the ultimate celebratory pairing

Riff on risotto and drizzle it with truffle oil for a decadent pairing. Or, keep it classic and top that risotto with some shrimp. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Chablis. Chablis hails from the Bourgogne region in France where the Chardonnay is known for its bright acidity and minerality. Translation:  it’s the opposite of buttery California Chardonnay.

Alternatively, try dishes such as lemon chicken, corn chowder (chilled or warm), roasted salmon, or Thanksgiving fare. It is also a nice pairing for my Light Weeknight Macaroni and Cheese Recipe.

Chardonnay Day

One of my early experiences on Twitter involved participating in wine chats. Initially there was Taste Live. Then, Rick Bakas founded Chardonnay day in 2010. It gave us the perfect excuse to gather with friends over food and wine. Of course, it also meant posting impressions of the wines and pairings on Twitter.

Chardonnay Day still takes place annually on the Thursday before Memorial Day. Either Twitter or Instagram are great places to share your experience. If you’re celebrating on this day, be sure to use the #ChardDay hashtag and tag me so I can see how you choose to pair Chardonnay with food!

#LetsTalkAboutWine

Celebrate National Moscato Day

National Moscato Day takes place on May 9th. Will you be celebrating the bubbly beverage? If so, here’s what you need to know to make the most of the occasion.

Moscato is light, slightly fizzy (technical wine word:  frizzante), and delightful to sip! It makes a great day drinking wine if you’re looking for an adult beverage to serve with brunch. However, at our house, we enjoy uncorking a bottle at the end of a meal to enjoy with dessert or on its own. Most bottles we purchase range in 5-7% alcohol by volume as compared to 12-14% for typical still wines. So, even if we’ve had wine with dinner, a little Moscato won’t put us over the edge.

National Moscato Day

Nerd Facts

Moscato is the Italian word for the Muscat Blanc grapes from which the wine is made. This variety is one of the oldest in the world!

Delicate honeysuckle and orange blossom aromatics are trademarks of this quaffable wine.  Thankfully, it tastes as pleasant as it smells. While sweet, it is not weighty or cloying.

Pairing Moscato

Personally, I adore almost anything lavender with Moscato, such as lavender shortbread or lavender ice cream. Likely because the lavender echoes the floral characteristic of the wine.

Tiramisu, however, is hands down the penultimate pairing.

chcocolate lady fingers coffee liqueur
Tiramisu Ingredients

So, how will you celebrate National Moscato Day? As with all social media wine holidays, be sure to use the right hashtag and share on social media. Head on over to Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine and #MoscatoDay!

Other Fun Wine Holidays

International Tempranillo Day
Malbec World Day – April 17
Taste Washington Wine Month – March
Washington Wine Month – August
Zinfandel Day

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How to Pair Malbec with Food

Ten years ago things really started to heat up in my kitchen! I was a student at the Northwest Wine Academy not only studying the craft of winemaking, but learning the art of pairing the finished product with food. In one of the classes Chef Lenny Rede challenged us with an assignment he titled, “Iron Chef:  Malbec.” The goal was to create a dish to complement a Malbec of his choosing. Here are the principles we applied to pair Malbec with food.

Flavors in Malbec

Pair Malbec with food using similar or contrasting flavors.
Blackberry ♦ Blueberry ♦ Cocoa ♦ Citrus ♦ Black Pepper ♦ Smokiness

Ingredients

Select a base ingredient that is likely to match with the variety.
Beef ♦ Lamb ♦ Veal ♦ Pork ♦ Tuna ♦ Chicken ♦ Duck ♦ Sausage

And/or use these bridge ingredients:
Tip:  select one or just a few. A dish that’s too busy competes with the wine rather than complements it.
Blackberries ♦ Blueberries ♦ Mushrooms ♦ Sun Dried Tomato ♦ Balsamic Vinegar ♦ Beets ♦ Bacon ♦ Aged Cheeses ♦ Mustard

Cooking Techniques

Grilling ♦ Roasting ♦ Smoking ♦ Barbecuing

Of course, let’s not forget one of the great food and wine pairing principles that says, “If it grows together it goes together.” In other words, pair Malbec with a dish you would find in an area where the wine is widely produced, such as Argentina. You know, like grilled steak and chimichurri! Or empanadas.

Meat

Suggested Food Pairings for Malbec

Back in class, some roasted sweet potatoes that Chef had served us inspired me to consider preparing sweet potato gnocchi and topping it with a Chimichurri sauce rather than pesto. Then, my class partner tasted my gnocchi and very nicely suggested that we try something else. “It might take us a while to perfect the technique for making those light fluffy pillows,” she hinted. Let’s just say I’m still working on that!

Winning dishes presented in our Iron Chef:  Malbec showdown included vegan chili, goulash, and a lovely cheese plate.

A good friend prepares a roast chicken by massaging baking spices under the skin. It’s a truly lovely match for Malbec.

Mole sauce is also fun to pair with Malbec. I like to go rogue and use it as a pasta sauce, pizza sauce, or a topping for turkey meatloaf. In Seattle, the French Grocery at Pike Place Market usually carries a mole paste that enables the home cook to whip up a batch of mole without spending days in the kitchen.

Also, if you’re a fan of the grape, be sure to mark your calendar – Malbec World Day is on April 17th each year. Join the celebration!

Chips, Dips, and Wine Pairings

Pairing wine with potato chips and other snack foods is increasingly popular as food holidays are celebrated with great frequency on social media. For example, National Tater Tot Day is a thing! Next up is National Chip and Dip Day on March 23rd. Celebrating these holidays with glass in hand is a fun way to get people to talk about wine! Read on to get inspired about chips, dips, and wine pairings.

When I was growing up, about the only time my mom served chips and dip was when company was coming over for a cocktail party. Which meant that the crunchy, salty ridged chip I so enjoyed was only paired with the classic savory onion dip about once every five years in our house. The dip, like so many of the foods popularized to make cooking convenient for the 1950s housewife, was prepared using dried soup mix. Nevertheless, that chip and dip combo was something special to my younger self. Biting into a satisfyingly crunchy chip coated in creamy dip was the equivalent of putting on a fancy party dress and staying up late.

Fast forward, and here we are with so many choices. Not only are there different flavored chips, but there are different kinds of chips. I mean, how did Taro chips become a thing? The chips are incredibly delicious, but the marketing team behind that deserves a standing ovation!

Now, consider all the possible combinations for chips and dips. The options are staggering! Throw an adult beverage into the mix, and wow do things get interesting. Let’s see what we can come up with.

Restaurant Chip and Wine Pairings

Wine and food
Delectable house made chips at Seattle’s Terra Plata

In Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood, Terra Plata makes some killer house made potato chips with truffled sea salt accompanied by pecorino-chive cream. I usually order a glass of bubbly Crémant to serve as a foil to the salty chips and mouth coating sauce.

Crazy Good Wine Chips, Gorgonzola Dip, and White Wine at Davenport Cellars

In Woodinville Wine Country’s Warehouse District, boutique winery Davenport Cellars offers “Wine Chips” on their menu. These gourmet potato chips are seasoned with wine in mind and accompanied by a chunky Gorgonzola dip. The Davenport Cellars Roussanne, a plush white wine, is a delectable pairing. Full disclosure: I work with the winery, but this is not a paid endorsement – I eat the heck out of these chips. I am not alone as you can see from one of the comments below.

However, taste is a personal thing and people have strong opinions. So, on National Potato Chip Day last week I took an informal survey of favorite chip and wine pairings on Twitter. Following are some of the early responses. I’ve included Twitter handles to make it easy to follow these chip and wine lovers!

Favorite Chip and Wine Pairings

@GailBenzler
Hmmm. I remember a lovely afternoon we spent at Davenport exploring wines, roving cheese shop and these delicious chips with the @davenportcellar Roussanne. Yummmmm! #nationalpotatochipoday #wine 😋 I discovered a new fave white that day.

@nicoleevents
I love chips!!! My favorite right now is @kettlebrand Backyard BBQ with a @SteMichelle Indian Wells Cab! Simple and tasty!

@wineNweather
The @GrnLakeGirl Special: bbq chips with the giant red 🍷 of your choice 😊🤤

@DivaVinophile
I tried some #lobsterroll flavored chips with a zippy CA white blend and it was pretty good 😋

@pasotours
Calbee seaweed chips with Viognier or NZ Sauvignon Blanc

Wine Glass and Snack Food

Chips and Wine Pairings with Dips

I couldn’t resist coming up with some ideas for dips to go with these chip and wine combos!

@CorkscrewConcierge
Love BBQ chips with Pinot Noir.
Truffle chips and champagne! #NationalPotatoChipDay
VinoSocial: How about a bacon dip with those BBQ chips and Pinot?

@SideHustleWino
I love chips and wine! Almost any chips with Champagne or Rosé but thanks to you and @GrnLakeGirl I now have BBQ chips for reds! Here is a favorite, followed closely by guac and corn chips.
VinoSocial: Albarino often expresses flavors of citrus and a sense of salinity very similar to a margarita. Consequently, it seems like the perfect match for guacomole and tortilla chips!

@AkronWineGuru
Yum Nancy!! My fav is BBQ and Zin🍷😋
VinoSocial: Let’s try a black bean dip with that!

@AlChirp
Irrespective of the chip flavor, I always go with a Sauvignon blanc…Cheers
VinoSocial: A ranch dip sounds like a great accompaniment!

If you are celebrating #NationalChipandDipDay, head on over to Twitter and share your pairing. Be sure to tag me, @VinoSocialNancy. I can’t wait to see what you come up with! #LetsTalkAboutWine

For more pairings with snack foods, check out my Flavorful Sparkling Wine and Popcorn Pairings.

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Pairing Tempranillo with Vegetarian Food

What do you do when you want to uncork a red wine with dinner, but red meat isn’t on the menu? The trick is to find a dish with the right bridge ingredients – those that connect the wine with the food. To do this, I recently turned to a recipe from the cookbook, Plenty, by Ottolenghi.

The response to my Instagram post of the pairing surprised me. People near and far chimed in about their appreciation for the cookbook, revealing how extensive a chef’s reach can be. Additionally, wine lovers revealed a thirst for Tempranillo. It served as a wonderful reminder that wine and food bring us closer together.

Instagram Post Food and Wine

A Dish for Tempranillo

I began with the wine, because a friend was joining us for dinner. We had all visited The Walls tasting room together when we traveled to the Celebrate Walla Walla event. The wines we tasted, crafted by talented winemaker Ali Mayfield, were stunning. It was time to uncork one of the wines purchased that day to relive that OMG memory.

Tempranillo has a depth and intensity that pairs well with meat. However, I did not plan to serve meat on this occasion. The vegetarian dish I usually turn to for Tempranillo is Tabbouleh Salad. This time, I wanted something a little more robust. Paging through Plenty, Ottolenghi’s recipe for Farro and Roasted Red Pepper Salad caught my eye. It combines the earthiness of farro, the savoriness of black olives, and the smokiness of paprika to pair like a dream with Tempranillo.

If you like Tempranillo, I urge you to give this pairing a try!

Resources

Learn more about Tempranillo and food pairing.

If you are in Seattle and want to explore wines from The Walls, Walla Walla Wines visit Seattle once a year.