The most popular wine grape in the world is chardonnay. Versatility and ease of growing make chardonnay
No. 1. Chardonnay grapes are used in still white varietals and blends as well as stand-alone, blanc de blanc, sparkling wines when not paired with pinot noir in blanc de noir.
Natural fruit flavors typically include apple, melon, pineapple, lemon and pear. Malolactic fermentation, a process in which bitter-tasting malic acids are converted to softer lactic acids through the addition of beneficial bacteria, often applied to chardonnay creates a rich buttery flavor. Natural nuances are further played upon by placing the wine in oak barrels to “rest.” Time spent in wooden barrels, which are often lightly charred on the inside, impart flavors of vanilla, caramel and spice.
Because chardonnay is such a popular grape, consumers benefit at the top end through knockout wines, while bargain wines that use surplus high-quality grapes are easy to find.
Creamy sauces and chicken are great pairings with chardonnay. So fire up the grill and try a cool glass of this flexible white, for cheap.
Coastal Ridge ($3.99) 1 Pulse Rating
Aromas of pineapple and zest precede simple pear and pineapple on the palate with a few notes of oak and lots of acidity. This California wine is bargain basement, and you can tell. Be thankful it does not contain high-fructose corn syrup and consider using it in a cream sauce.
Lindemans Bin 65 ($5.99) 3 Pulse Rating
This Aussie white smells of apples and citrus, a good indicator of the vibrant acidity. A light touch of oak rounds out delicate melon and pear flavors. Light and pleasant.
Crane Lake ($4.99) 4 Pulse Rating
Owned by Bronco Wine Company, Crane Lake is essentially “Two Buck Chuck” with a higher price tag because of taxes and transport.
Aromas of honeysuckle and apple invite sipping. Butterscotch bursts with big fruit flavors of nectarine and pineapple. A nice touch of acidity rounds out the balanced juxtaposition of fruit and oak. Delicious as it is inexpensive.
The Little Penguin ($5.99) 4 Pulse Rating
Consistently, this Australian value wine producer releases wines that taste like they should cost more than they do. While these wines are not the best thing ever, they are great for the money. Apple, pear and pineapple appeal to the nose. On the palate oak, vanilla and butterscotch flavors follow a bright apple zing. A great value, especially if you like your chardonnay with a healthy dose of oak and malolactic.