What is Chardonnay

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines in the world and has some distinct qualities that separate it from other vintages.

What is Chardonnay?

Chardonnay is a versatile green grape with a neutral flavor. Although it originated in the Burgundy region of France, it is now grown all over the world. The grape is used as a key ingredient in sparkling wines, including champagne. However, when processed alone, it produces a dry white wine by the same name, often with characteristic flavors of apple, melon or butter.

The adaptability of the grape makes it highly sensitive to the area and conditions in which it is grown and produced, environmental factors that are known in the wine world as ‘terroir‘. This makes for a range of flavors and characteristics in the final product as per the research by RR Walker from the Cooperative Research Centre for Viticulture. It is one of the few white wines that are aged in oak, which can often be a key factor in the flavor palette. This popular white wine tends to be at the higher end of the alcohol content spectrum, at 13.5%-15% ABV.

A glass of white wine with a bunch of white grapes, placed on a wood barrel with blurred trees at the back.

A bubbly for a special occasion. Photo Credit: Shutterstock


A single serving of this wine contains approximately 112 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates. A glass also contains small amounts of potassium and trace elements of zinc and iron.


According to David M Goldberg, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Canada, when consumed in moderation, the potential health benefits of this white wine include:

  • Helping to maintain a healthy heart
  • Keeping the body looking young
  • Reducing the risk of stroke
  • Improving bone density

Chardonnay vs Pinot Grigio

Let us take a look at the difference between these two drinks.

  • Texture: Chardonnay is a richer and more full-bodied wine than the light and crisp Pinot Grigio. Chardonnay tends to be drier of the two wines.
  • Varieties: As a more sensitive grape variety, there is greater variation in the Chardonnay wines than in the Pino Grigio wines.
  • Alcohol content: Chardonnay often has a higher alcoholic content than Pinot Grigio.


This white wine variety should always be served cold. Due to the richness of flavor, it is well-paired with complex and rich meals as per a study by Robert J. Harrington, Ph.D., School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; such as the following:

Side Effects

It’s always best to drink any alcohol in moderation in order to avoid intoxication and other unpleasant side effects, such as the following:

  • Sickness
  • Headaches
  • Impaired decision-making

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the consumption of alcohol, as it can have negative implications.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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