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Affordable Chardonnays and Recipes That Pair With Them
The Basics of Pairing Wine with Food
Did you know that chardonnay wines have distinct styles? According to Chandon Clenard, senior executive chef of performance dining at Stanford University, this variety of wine can take on many aromas. For example, New World (California) style has a rich, full-bodied flavor with buttery and vanilla notes from oak-barrel aging, and Old World (French) style has rich, complex fruit flavors with earthy and mineral notes. Though each variety has a place in your wine rack, Chandon says it's important to consider the body (aka how the wine feels on your tongue and its overall taste) before choosing the food that pairs with it.
Barefoot California Chardonnay
Rich and fruity with sweet aromas of vanilla, green apple, and pineapple, this Barefoot California chardonnay has French oak notes that enhance the fruity flavor and lingering creamy finish. In fact, it's the only wine in the Barefoot arsenal that uses oak. ($7; barefootwine.com)
Sara Haas, L.D.N., R.D.N., Certified Chef
Pair with Arugula Salad with Chopped Pistachios
The pros agree that one of the best ingredients to pair with a wine like Barefoot California chardonnay is pistachios. It's no secret that wine and nuts is a match made in heaven. But this is a pair you can feel good about munching on. Nearly 90 percent of the fat in pistachios is the healthy unsaturated kind, and a pile of empty shells can act as a visual reminder of portion control. Pistachios, such as Wonderful Pistachios, lend a satisfying crunch, creamy texture, and rich flavor. Try this wine-and-food pairing with a peppery arugula salad tossed with chopped nuts.
Get the recipe: Arugula Salad with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette
Edna Valley Vineyard
Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay
Sipping on Edna Valley Vineyard chardonnay, you'll notice subtle aromas of lemon oil and white flower combined with layers of white peach, apricot, pineapple, and brown spice—it's almost like a taste of spring, This well-balanced wine is a reflection of grapes from two distinct regions of California's central coast, which sets it apart from the pack. ($14, ednavalleyvineyard.com)
Alexandra Caspero, M.A., R.D., C.L.T., R.Y.T.
Pair with White Bean, Tomato, and Avocado Toast
Chandon recommends the fan favorite avocado toast to pair with the Edna Valley chardonnay. You can make things a little more interesting and party friendly with recipes like Smoked Salmon Avocado Toast, Mango Avocado Toast, or the below recipe for white bean avocado toast.
Get the recipe: White Bean and Tomato Avocado Toast
Dark Horse Wines
Dark Horse Chardonnay
Dark Horse chardonnay combines aromas of baked apple and pear with notes of toasted oak and caramel. The complex flavors unite wonderfully to leave a smooth, lingering finish to this wine. This wine totally outperforms its inexpensive price tag. ($8, darkhorsewine.com)
Kara Lydon, R.D., L.D.N., R.Y.T.
Pair with Butternut Squash and Sage Crostini
Dark Horse says this rich wine pairs well with the warm, crisp flavors of butternut squash and even some creamy cheese dishes. A few healthy recipe recommendations: Butternut Squash Lasagna, Apple, Bacon, Gouda Macaroni and Cheese, or the tasty crostini below.
Get the recipe: Butternut Squash and Sage Crostini
When in Doubt, Use This Wine Pairing Rule of Thumb
If you're still not sure you have this whole wine-and-food-pairing thing down, don't stress. Phil Kyle, owner and head chef at Ember Woodfire Grill in Livonia, New York, says that the most important rule when it comes to pairing wine with food is that light-colored wine pairs well with light-colored food. "When matching chardonnay with food, opt for light-colored proteins like seafood, fish, and chicken paired with vegetables like a spring salad or asparagus," says Kyle. Pressed for time or looking for an on-budget finger food for your next party? Put together a quick veggie flatbread.