Like any kind of food and wine pairing, one can't expect all Chardonnay wines to go with a certain dessert. The style of the wine is the key. We need to understand the various styles of Chardonnay in order to discover what kinds of desserts can be matched with them.
Different Types Of Chardonnay Wine
Different resources on food and wine pairing, be it niche websites or guides on wine, classify this varietal differently, making the topic a confusing one. For much-needed simplicity, we are leaving out any sparkling wines out of our classification (since that’s an entirely different style). Broadly speaking, dry Chardonnay wines can be divided into two categories:
Oaked Chardonnay: Whenever you read about a Chardy that’s been described as buttery, big or rich, this is the head it falls under. (For those who are curious, the butter flavour comes either from malolactic fermentation, or maturation in ‘new Oak’.) Some would have similar apple pie or custard tart characters. Not all drinks that have undergone oak ageing will show a butter-like flavour, however. (Wines can be lightly oaked too!) The palate has a creamy texture. This creaminess, in some cases, also features in the flavours along with the texture, and hence you may find crème brûlée going through tasting notes. Australia is famous for this oaked style of Chardonnay.
Unoaked Chardonnay: Contrary to the previous category, these drinks are light and crisp. Since there is no oak ageing, they boast of a lively acidity, unless they underwent malolactic fermentation, which softens the acid layer. (Refer to the tasting notes of your wine for clarity.) If yours has undergone ML fermentation, you can once again expect butter and cream-like characteristics, even though it hasn't spent time in oak. That said, unoaked style of Chardonnay is much lighter than oaked. While Oz is known for oak-aged Chardonnay wine, this more delicate style is probably more popular in the island nation as of today.
Now that you know about the different types of Chardonnay wines and the experiences that they provide, let’s discuss pairing them with sweet dishes.
Matching Dessert And Chardonnay
Orange Soufflé: An airy yet rich dessert, perfumed and flavoured with freshly grated orange zest & juice of sweet oranges, served hot! The citrusy profile of the bake goes nicely with the fresh lemon aroma/ grapefruit acidity/ similar elements in the drink. Pair with a Chardonnay dessert wine if you are adventurous!
Use both oranges & lemons in the soufflé for an even better experience!
Rice Pudding: While this creamy & comforting preparation, with a sweet tone of vanilla, is a great match with Chardonnay, specially if served with tropical fruit, we ‘strongly recommend’ Zafrani Kheer. This Indo-Pakistani version is cooked with saffron & cut almonds – both go beautifully with the booze! Go for an oaky, ‘fruit-forward’ Chardonnay.
Strawberry Cobbler: Bright & slightly tart strawberries are baked till they are part syrup, part soft fruit, topped with a cookie-like crust! Go a ‘little’ easy on the sugar, and the vibrancy & fruitiness of strawberries can be matched to an unoaked Chardy!
Peaches & Cream Bars: A buttery, crumbly, slightly salty ‘shortbread’ base & topping contrast against the generously piled, creamy and fruity filling! Like with any dish, sweet or savoury, the butter brings out the best in Chardonnay. Use an echoing wine described as “buttery”, of course!
Mango Cupcakes: Simple but elegant vanilla-scented cake crowned by a piping of delightful mango buttercream/ cooling whipped cream & dices of fresh mango! Both butter & cream are best friends with Chardonnay, while the vanilla in the wine (Check tasting notes!) brings out the best of it in the cake!
Thinking that you can’t enjoy Chardonnay dessert pairing because the thought of making and serving a perfect orange souffle in an orange is daunting? No worries – get a tub of Salted Caramel Ice Cream and make an elegant match with an oaked, rich Chardy! With the wine mimicking the butteriness of the caramel bits and the richness of the dessert, your party will be remembered by guests, for years to come!