Some might be surprised by the idea of Chardonnay with crab. The reputation of this wine was tarnished when former prime minister John Major announced that he was an “ABC Man” (Anything But Chardonnay). Around the same time, Bridget Jones’s Diary hit the cinema screens, which didn’t do Chardonnay’s image any favours. “Dear diary, I’ve failed again,” Jones wrote. “I’ve poured an enormous glass of Chardonnay and I’m going to put my head in the oven.”

What's Changed in Chardonnay?

Chardonnays of the Nineties and Noughties were heady and oaky. Pair them with crab and they’d overwhelm the delicate meat. The big aromas weren’t
to do with the grapes, though, but the way that the winemakers were ageing the grapes.

They tinkered with them, using oak barrels to force new aromas—vanilla, caramel, spice—into the wine. When this technique works, the results are complex and stunning. Get it wrong, however, and the result is a caramelly, headache-inducing wine. 

Does Chardonnay have to be oaked?

Chardonnay doesn’t have to be oaked. Indeed, those produced in northern Italy never traditionally come in contact with the wood. Now, though, the trend is spreading—particularly in the New World regions—and more “unoaked” varieties are creeping onto supermarket shelves.

These Chardonnays are aged in stainless-steel barrels and are also known as “unwooded” or, among racier vitners, “naked”. The palate is crisper and cleaner, and it makes a beautiful accompaniment to briney, delicate, sweet crab.

For the perfect crab dish click here

Recommended Bottles to Accompany Crab

Errazuriz, Unoaked Chardonnay 2012, £9.99: Tesco

Casa Leona, Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, £8.49: Marks and Spencer

Yellowtail, Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, £7.75: Ocado

Limestone Coast Chardonnay, Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, £5.99: Aldi

Our regional hero… 

Chamonix, Unoaked Chardonnay 2013, £9.99: The Wine Reserve, Kent

 

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