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Is Chardonnay Sweet or Dry?
Is Chardonnay sweet? Or is Chardonnay dry?
The Chardonnay grape variety is a dry wine. But its flavor will vary greatly depending on the type of winemaking process, terroir, and whether it is oaked or not.
However, if you are curious about the sweetness of Chardonnay wines, we have put together a chart comparing the different sweetness levels of other popular white wines that will help you out!
In this article, we will discuss the tasting notes for the many different types of this white wine. And we will go over the winemaking process that can make Chardonnay appear “sweet”.
Table of Contents
What is Chardonnay?
Chardonnay is a white wine grape originating in the Burgundy region of France. And now, the grape is planted all over the world. Because Chardonnay is a versatile grape that can be made into a variety of wines, from light and refreshing to rich and bold.
Cool Climate Chardonnay
These white wines are typically light in body with bright acidity. And the wines made from these grapes are often unoaked or only slightly oaked, which allows the delicate flavor of the grape to shine through. Typically these Chardonnays are fresh and lively with citrus and green apple flavors.
One of the most well-known Chardonnays, Chablis, is one of the driest white wines. And it’s so dry that it’s often compared to a Sauvignon Blanc and/or other dry white wines. Plus, Chablis is made with little to no oak aging, which contributes to its dryness.
Cool Climate Chardonnay Wine Regions
- Sonoma Coast
- Willamette Valley
- New Zealand
Warm Climate Chardonnay
Wines made from Chardonnay grapes grown in warm climates are typically richer, fruit forward, and have more body than those made from cool climate grapes. Plus, these wines often undergo heavy oak aging, which gives them their signature buttery and vanilla flavors.
And often these wines are full-bodied with a creamy texture and have tropical fruit flavors.
Warm Climate Chardonnay Wine Regions
- South Australia
- South Italy
Is Chardonnay Dry?
As mentioned before, Chardonnay wines widely fall into the dry wine category.
In winemaking, “Dry” implies that the yeast has converted most of the grapes’ sugars to alcohol. And any sugar remaining at the end of fermentation is known as “residual sugar.”
So, a wine with less than 10 grams of rs/L (residual sugar per liter) is considered DRY.
Cool climate Chardonnays are categorized as dry wine because of their crisp acidity and other dry characteristics. And it would be hard to find any “sweetness” in this type of Chardonnay.
But although technically dry, Chardonnay from warm climate/oaked Chardonnays may have some sweet flavors/characteristics. Because they may appear as flavors of honey, vanilla, or just from the sweetness of their ripe fruit flavors.
White Wine Sweetness Chart
How Chardonnay is Made?
Made by fermenting the Chardonnay wine in contact with oak barrels. And the result can give the white wine buttery, oaky, and toasty flavors. Additionally, the wines are often aged in oak barrels, which can add vanillin (a natural compound found in wood that tastes like vanilla) to the wine.
And the flavors from oaked Chardonnay wine can be a sweet bouquet of butterscotch, vanilla, with hints of honey, hazelnut, and caramel. Therefore these flavors can definitely be interpreted as sweet.
Unoaked Chardonnay is fermented in stainless steel tanks or neutral barrels, which do not add any flavors to the wine. And these wines are typically lighter in body and have brighter acidity.
Malolactic Fermentation (MLF)
This is a process where bacteria convert the wine’s harsh malic acid into softer lactic acid. As a result, this can make the wine taste creamier and less tart. Furthermore, wines that have undergone Malolactic Fermentation often have buttery flavors.
Does Chardonnay have a sweet taste? Is Chardonnay sweeter than Moscato?
Many people believe that Chardonnay wine is sweet like a Moscato, when it is not.
Moscato has over 60 – 140+ grams/L of residual sugar. Whereas, Chardonnay has less than 10 grams/L of residual sugar.
Again, it’s because Chardonnay may taste “sweet” because of the ripe fruit or other factors that are coming out of that particular Chardonnay.
In summary, is Chardonnay sweet? No. But because of its popularity, there are many different types of Chardonnays available that can suite anyone’s taste.
Whether you like your Chardonnay oaked or unoaked, from a cool climate or warm climate region, there is definitely a Chardonnay out there for you.
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