Called the “red wine of whites” among some winemakers with a particular love for Chardonnay, it’s clear that the popular wine stands out from the rest. White wine is made differently than red mainly in how winemakers use white grapes or green grapes. But, unlike the usual process with darker colored grapes, winemakers don’t include grape skin in the fermentation process. Keeping the skin creates the darker colors of red wines, and leaving it out allows white wines, like Chardonnay, to have their light coloring.
Made from the Chardonnay grape of the same name with a dry style, this means that after the grapes are pressed, the sugar from the grape, after being affected by the yeast, becomes alcohol. This works until all the sugar is converted, creating a dry wine. Sometimes, you can find little residual sugar in the bottle left behind by the winemaker.
The Origin of Chardonnay
The name ‘Chardonnay’ does not actually come from the grape. The wine and the grape it’s made from both get their name from the commune in the Mâconnais region in Burgundy, which is a region of France. Even to this day, the town of Macon is still dominated by vineyards making Chardonnay.
The Grape That Makes the Wine
The grape used to make Chardonnay is a crossbreed between pinot noir and gouais blanc, two white grapes, one from the same place as Chardonnay and the other from Central Europe. The pinot noir grape has been notoriously hard to grow, but many winemakers cross-pollinated it with their other grapes to make various kinds of wines. Chardonnay wasn’t even the first or last new grape made from crossbreeding pinot noir and gouais blanc.
When winemakers first created Chardonnay, they had finally made a grape that had the juiciness of pinot noir without the difficulty of growing it. It immediately became a favorite, but it wasn’t until the 14th century when Cistercian monks popularized using it to make wine.
The Rise of Chardonnay
Hundreds of years ago, Cistercian monks noticed how difficult it was to grow certain grapes to make many favorite wines of the time. This meant that they could only grow so many grapes and have only so much wine. When Chardonnay was created and they realized how much easier it was to grow, they had the best ancient equivalent of a sales pitch one could come up with for a grape.
Cistercian monks continued to crossbreed Chardonnay to make it as farmer-friendly as possible. As they did so, they ended up crossbreeding it with Pinot Noir and creating the also popular Champagne!
The Wine Today
Recently, gouais blanc, one of the grapes that made the original Chardonnay, was nearly wiped out by a virus. Chardonnay narrowly survived by being taken overseas, where it became the popular dry white wine it is today.
Immigrants who set up wineries in Australia and the Americas found Chardonnay’s ability to be mass-produced perfect for the high consumption rates of people in those regions. In a few years, it became one of the most common wines you could find and remains so even to this day.
Try Chardonnay and More at Fire and Ice
If you’re looking to try Chardonnay with a worthy dinner, make a reservation at Fire and Ice. We’ve opened up reservations for our igloo dinners where you can eat your meal under the stars in a heated and intimate outdoor setting. It’s a truly stunning experience to have a mouth-watering meal under the lights of the night sky.
And if you’re interested in more than just Chardonnay, we have many more wines on our list. There are bubbling wines, red wines, and other white wines if you’re looking to try something new with your meal.
No matter what you choose from our menu, we have the perfect wine to go with it.