Chardonnay is an ideal wine to pair with many grilled foods. For one thing, it’s immensely popular—I have friends who prefer it to anything else. It is also extremely versatile, with the best examples having not only the acidity to cut through the grease and char that one expects from a lot of grilled foods, but also a richness that helps it stand up even to heavier meats such as pork and lamb. Rounding out its grill-versatility, it’s also the perfect accompaniment to grilled fish, chicken, octopus and vegetables.
The following are my 15 top suggestions, based on over 1,000 recent vintage Chardonnays tasted. These beautiful Chards can all be found for less than $50 and hail from cooler regions of California and Australia, as well as France’s Chablis region.
All of the wines on this list are minerally and possess good acidity, a key to pairing with grilled foods. Many of them, especially from cool climate vineyards in Santa Barbara County and the Sonoma Coast, are regularly swept by ocean breezes, exhibiting a salinity that makes them wonderfully food-friendly.
The rankings below are based first on my score. For those wines all ranked, for example, 92+ points, I’ve listed the lower-priced wines first. As you’ll see, there a lot of relative bargains on this list, as low as $20 for an excellent Chablis from a great vintage, and $23 for one of Australia’s tastiest Chards!