If you’ve never drawn a parallel between that medallion of herbed butter atop your frites-flanked rib eye steak and a buttery glass of Chardonnay, it’s time to rethink the old adage, white wine with white meats, red wines with red meats.

By Food & Wine
Updated April 25, 2016
Photo courtesy of Sonoma Cutrer

A full-bodied Chardonnay can stand up to the heartiest of fare thanks to the power it attains after resting in oak barrels—just like red wine! Chardonnay, in fact, pairs with a wide range of meats better than almost any other white wine because its relatively light acidity tends to complement whatever it's paired with (rather than contrast), and its lack of bitter tannins makes it utterly versatile. Indeed, there's a style for every meat, but which Chardonnay you choose depends more on the sauce with which you prepare and/or serve the meat. In general, it's best to avoid highly acidic, super spicy, or super sweet sauces when pairing food with any classically dry wine. Here are our suggestions.


White meats are both metaphorically and literally clean canvases upon which to draw flavor. Whether you sauté, grill or roast them, they remain ultimately lighter in body and flavor than, say, beef. Here's an opportunity to pour a fruit-forward, medium-bodied Chardonnay that props up the lightness of the fare with juicy, mouthwatering flavors. Consider a wine like Sonoma-Cutrer's Russian River Ranches. The intense fruit flavors and complexity of this Chardonnay makes this wine ideal for entertaining and versatile with food.


Unlike any other meat, pork straddles the world of light and dark protein just like Chardonnay does of white and red wines; they each possess qualities of both. While the light meat from a loin of pork looks white, it certainly more flavorful and distinctive than, say, the white meat of a chicken breast. It can handle a more full-flavored wine. The darker, richer pork from the shoulder, then, demands even more power in a wine. Among white wines there's only one that possesses both elegance and richness to match the pork: Chardonnay. In addition to classic apple and pear fruit aromas and flavors, look for Chardonnays perfumed with toasted nuts, spice, a hint of vanilla and a touch of butter. A wine like Sonoma-Cutrer. This wine has the signature. Sonoma-Cutrer's Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is all of that, and more.


Pairing Chardonnay with dark meats like steak and lamb depends, moreso than in any other case, on the overall preparation, and in particular, on the accompaniments. That aforementioned steak frites served with a medallion of butter on top usually comes with a side of creamy, buttery Béarnaise sauce, too. Grilled lamb chops or butterflied leg of lamb is often served with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. The Chardonnay to pair with any of them needs to be powerful and rich enough to stand up to the protein's bold flavor, and complement the various sides and sauces. This is where Sonoma-Cutrer Les Pierres Chardonnay come to the table, bringing with it the prestige of a veritable California 'Grand Cru,' brimming with complex aromas of lime, grapefruit and lemon mixed with the flinty, mineral notes that are a defining characteristic of superior Chardonnay. Caramelized oak, vanilla and spice nuances nicely balance the citrus flavors. A perfect match.