The Chameleon Potential of Chardonnay

28 Oct

            As part of our first sommelier class, we studied, then tasted two varietals, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.  I enjoyed the exercise with the sauvignon blanc, as it is a wine I know well and its pungent aromas were easy to identify.  It was a confidence builder and a great place to start.

            I enjoyed the chardonnay, as well, for the same, but also a different reason.  I learned that part of the chardonnay profile is that it is a “neutral” grape.  As I thought about it, I realized that while I’ve certainly experienced this, I had never really distilled those experiences into a generalization about the grape itself.  But as I tasted the lightness and freshness of a Chablis next to the weight and bolder tastes of an oaked California chardonnay, the truth hit me front and center.  Chardonnay is a chameleon grape.  It has a wardrobe of style possibilities to carry it to any occasion, from ball to barbecue.  Winemakers, like fashion designers, can put their individual mark on chardonnay wines and make them their own.

            As a woman in her 40’s, enjoying a career shift after the full-time “Mom” thing, I love thinking of chardonnay as a symbol for my own chameleon potential. It feels liberating and exciting to visualize myself as the winemaker of my own “chardonnay” life, fermenting my past experiences, strengths and skills in a way that will allow me to forge new paths and explore undiscovered potential while still remaining true to myself.  I’m grateful that I’m not locked into my past, that I am “neutral” and that I can choose to develop in new and exciting ways.  So will I become, metaphorically, a light and fresh Chablis?  Or will I decide that I need a little oak ageing?  I’m not yet sure.  But discovery is half the adventure.

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