Is Chardonnay White Wine?

Chardonnay is a white grape variety that is widely planted around the world.


It has an almost preternatural ability to both express the land in which it’s grown and the winemaker’s touch. Chardonnay is the most popular white wine on earth and the number one selling white wine varietal in the world.

Chardonnay is used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. Chardonnay grapes are somewhat resilient, making them relatively easy to grow, and the wine itself can vary depending on the climate and soil in which it is grown.

Whether you’re a seasoned wine drinker or just starting to explore the world of white wine, understanding what Chardonnay is and the different styles it can be produced in is essential.

In this article, we’ll explore the basics of Chardonnay, including where it comes from, how it’s made, and what to look for when selecting a bottle.

Origin and History of Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a white wine grape variety that is believed to have originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France. The exact origins of the grape are unclear, but it is widely believed to be a cross between the Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc grape varieties.


The earliest written mention of Chardonnay dates back to the late 16th century, where it was referred to as “Pinot Chardonnay.” It was not until the 18th century that the grape began to be referred to simply as “Chardonnay.”

In the 19th century, Chardonnay gained popularity outside of France and was planted in other wine-producing regions around the world. Today, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world, with significant plantings in California, Australia, and South America.

Despite its widespread popularity, Chardonnay has faced criticism in recent years for its perceived lack of complexity and its tendency to be over-oaked. However, many winemakers continue to produce high-quality Chardonnay wines that showcase the grape’s unique characteristics and terroir.

Chardonnay Grape Variety

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine.


It is a versatile variety that adapts well to different climates and soil types, making it one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. Chardonnay grapes are grown in every wine-producing region of the world, from Burgundy in France to California in the United States.

Chardonnay is a medium to full-bodied wine with moderate to high acidity. The wine is known for its fruit flavors, which can range from citrus and green apple to tropical fruit and stone fruit. The wine can also have notes of vanilla, butter, and oak, depending on the winemaking process.

Chardonnay grapes are relatively easy to grow and can be harvested early or late in the season, depending on the desired flavor profile. Early harvest Chardonnay grapes produce wines with high acidity and crisp fruit flavors, while late harvest Chardonnay grapes produce wines with lower acidity and more complex flavors.

Chardonnay grapes are used to produce a wide range of white wines, from light and crisp to rich and full-bodied. The wine is often aged in oak barrels, which can impart flavors of vanilla and toast to the wine. Some winemakers choose to ferment Chardonnay in stainless steel tanks, which can preserve the wine’s fruit flavors and acidity.

Chardonnay Winemaking Process

Chardonnay is a versatile grape that can be grown in a variety of climates and regions.


The winemaking process for Chardonnay can vary depending on the winemaker’s preferences, but there are some general steps that are commonly followed.

The first step in making Chardonnay is harvesting the grapes. The grapes are typically picked by hand to ensure that only the best grapes are used. Once the grapes are harvested, they are sorted to remove any damaged or unripe grapes.

The next step is to crush the grapes to release the juice. The juice is then transferred to a tank for fermentation. Some winemakers choose to add a yeast culture to the juice to help kickstart the fermentation process.

During fermentation, the sugar in the grape juice is converted into alcohol. The winemaker can choose to ferment the wine in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. Oak barrels can add flavors of vanilla and spice to the wine, while stainless steel tanks can help preserve the wine’s fruit flavors.

After fermentation is complete, the winemaker can choose to put the wine through malolactic fermentation. This process converts malic acid into lactic acid, which can give the wine a creamier mouthfeel. Not all winemakers choose to put their Chardonnay through malolactic fermentation, as it can change the wine’s flavor profile.

Once the winemaker is satisfied with the wine’s flavor and aroma, the wine is bottled and aged. Some winemakers choose to age their Chardonnay in oak barrels, while others prefer to use stainless steel tanks or no oak at all (unoaked). The aging process can last anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the winemaker’s preferences.

Types of Chardonnay Wine

Chardonnay is a versatile grape that can be made into a variety of wine styles.


The two main types of Chardonnay wine are oaked and unoaked.

Oaked Chardonnay

Oaked Chardonnay is a classic style that is aged in oak barrels. This process gives the wine a creamy, rich texture with flavors of vanilla, butter, and toast. Oaked Chardonnay is often associated with white Burgundy, which is made in the Burgundy region of France.

White Burgundy is known for its complex flavors and aromas, which can include notes of apple, pear, lemon, and hazelnut. Chablis is a sub-region of Burgundy that produces unoaked Chardonnay. Chablis has a unique flavor profile that is often described as flinty or mineral-driven.

Unoaked Chardonnay

Unoaked Chardonnay is a lighter style of Chardonnay that is not aged in oak barrels. Instead, the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, which preserves the natural flavors and aromas of the grape. Unoaked Chardonnay is often associated with Chardonnay from the Chablis region of France.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

Written by Paul Kushner

I have always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. My restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time I turned 17 I was serving tables, and by 19 I was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, I opened my first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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