In the '80s it became de rigeur to ask for "a glass of Chardonnay"
in a restaurant and passé to simply request "a glass
of white wine." Chardonnay is the most popular wine in America
for a reason: It's cold, fruity and easy to drink. It's
pleasant with just about any dish involving cheese, eggs,
fish or fowl. Winemakers have divided into two camps over
the style of Chardonnay; one school of thought emphasizes
the high-toned, steely, fruitlike qualities of the wine
with little or no use of oak, while the other emphasizes
barrel and malolactic fermentation in addition to the fruit
characteristic, which lends the wine a rounder, buttery
taste. Benchmarks for Chardonnay are (rich and extracted)
white Burgundies and (steely and crisp) Chablis. There are
fine Chardonnays from just about every region, including Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and New York.