GRAPE DATE: The Chameleon

For years Chardonnay has been considered an almost blasphemous grape. It became so infamous that the term ‘ABC’ (Anything But Chardonnay) quickly became mainstream, especially in the States. If you were serving Chardonnay you would ensure that the grape variety was either uttered quietly, or preferably broadcasted as its pseudonym; Chablis. Some have even gone as far to claim an allergy to this grape variety as an avoidance tactic. Time to find out whether Chardonnay is the grape for you…



Personal profile:

Chardonnay grapes

They call me the chameleon. People often avoid me because  like a box of chocolates, with me you never know what you’re going to get. I’m like Lady Gaga – quite plain really –  but I do like to play dress up to make myself more interesting. I can be both refined and elegant, but also loud and in your face. My name, which has been much abused, and reputation precedes me and most people give me a wide birth – scared that I’ve been tainted by oak. But if you give me a chance you’ll find out that I am actually quite refreshing and I have hidden depths that are quite alluring.



Name: Chardonnay

Nicknames: The chameleon. I’m also named after some of the places that have embraced me such as Chablis, Meursault, Puligny Montrachet and Champagne.  

 Age: My history is somewhat a mystery

Country of Origin: France

Location(s):  The world is my oyster. I was brought up in Burgundy, but I like to travel all over. It’s unlikely that there’s anywhere that I haven’t been.

Likes: Anything, everywhere. I’m not picky.

Dislikes:  Early spring frosts, and those that judge me without getting to know me

Body type: My weight can really fluctuate from slender and elegant all the way through to voluptuous

Smoking: Sometimes, but it’s contributed to my bad reputation

Drinking: I can be enjoyed alone, or with food. The choice is yours.


Where do I begin? Depending on my mood and location I can be like lemons and green apples through to pineapple and mango. Mineral, smoke, butter, toast and brioche are part of the mix when I play dress up too.

Similar to: I’m quite like Viognier, but without the perfume. I’m often confused with Semillon too.


I do tend to have a lot of partners, but I’m not ashamed of my open nature. Generally any of the other less aromatic grapes will work wonders when paired up with me. With food it really depends on what state I’m in. When I’m oaky I can work well with a fish pie or a roast chicken. When I’m feeling bubbly then I am great with oysters. Unoaked I make a good match for lots of fish dishes and a killer mushroom risotto works well too.

Met your match?

Here’s a guide to the minefield that can be Chardonnay. How do you like yours?

Chablis La Terrasse, France. £10.49 (Sainsburys)

Fruity and oaky
First Press Chardonnay, California, USA. £16.99 (Waitrose)

Elegant and oaky
Meursault Premier Cru Louis Latour, France. £30 (Majestic)

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, France. £53.70 (Hedonism Wines)