The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2018

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4  /  the tasting panel  /  july 2018 In the hospitality business, you hear it all the time: "I'll have a glass of Chardonnay, please." Or, the more generic rendition: "I'll have a white wine . . . [pause, as if a decision is being made] . . . Make it a Chardonnay." (The decision was made in the car.) Do not despair—it's all part of the territory. Let's face it: Chardonnay, that traditional Burgundian white variety, is the world's most popular wine grape. The problem with this hardy variety, though, is that it doesn't give a #&$% where it grows. Sort of like that friend you had a secret crush on in college who'd seemingly flirt with anyone, just not with you. Perhaps that's an unfair comparison, though, as Chardonnay is in fact a noble variety of fine breeding. It produces some of the world's greatest wines, among them Chablis, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, and the Big Bopper itself, Le Montrachet. Notice I didn't say "white wines," as the aforementioned can hold up to the best of any color. True, your average patron isn't bellying up to the bar and ordering "Corton-Charlemagne," as most will unfortunately take anything you give them. But since Chardonnay grows in a plethora of places around the world, it makes wines in an incredibly wide range of quality: It can be priced from $5 to $1,000 a bottle, and yes, it can taste like heaven or hell. For those looking to break their customers out of this rut: What if you were to say, "Here, try this—if you don't like it, it's on me," and hand them a glass of Albariño, Vermentino, or Grenache Blanc? What do you suppose the reaction would be? My guess is that nine out of ten would say, "That's nice, I like it!" and perhaps branch out without any prompting next time. As for the outlier, give them their requested glass of Chardonnay and apologize. Some lost causes just can't be helped. The World's Most Popular Wine LETTER FROM THE EDITOR PHOTO: JEREMY BALL

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