This week, Alex Blackwood thinks she has found the cure to wine aisle anxiety in the form of a balanced, affordable chardonnay.
A couple of weeks ago I had a flatmate tell me “I don’t like chardonnay, it’s too rich.” Then the other day my fancy uncle said to me: “Oh no, I’m not drinking that, cheap wine is never good.” Over the weekend my friend claimed “I don’t like white wines. They’re too sweet.”
In each of these cases, they ended up eating their words and sloshing them down with a second glass of one very special bottom shelf supermarket chardonnay.
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It’s a polarising varietal at the best of times and as a nation, New Zealand tends to buy into the old “cheap wine = bad, expensive wine = good” dichotomy*. Coming in at $9 a bottle at Countdown, Longridge chardonnay is here to prove you wrong and help banish the feeling of being overwhelmed by choice in the wine aisle.
The reason Longridge got all these naysayers on board is that it caters to all. It’s a medium-dry chardonnay with an almost nectarine fruitiness and a hint of a whisper of oak. There is a little bit of butter, enough that this cheeky drop but not so much that its fruity, peach elements don’t provide a fresh contrast to creamy dishes. So it’s dry, but not too dry; fruity but not very fruity, woody and buttery but not too much of either.
In a lovely, sippable, friendly-to-all-palates way, it’s balanced.
To borrow a phrase from the Wine for Normal People podcast, it’s a "porch sipper": tasty, interesting and mild enough to drink on its own in a relaxed setting. Yet at the same time, it goes with damn near anything. Similarly, it works for all wine drinkers or non-wine drinkers who need a little fruit-and-butter-flavoured coaxing. That’s why I try to keep a bottle in my house at all times.
I know I’m writing a good Metro Recommends when I have a twinge of “don’t tell anyone about this delicious thing, they’ll buy it all and there will be none left for you.” And this is one of those times so please leave a bottle on the shelf for me. But also, I’m here to tell you what is good and hopefully, in this case, prevent anyone breaking down over the infinite choice of the wine aisle. When you're next faced with a thousand wines, simply roll over to the chardonnay section and ease your mind: help yourself to a bottle of Longridge.
*Yes it is “the cheap stuff” but that (and I cannot stress this enough) does. not. matter. Banish the connection between “cheap” and “not good” from your mind here and now unto forever. Instead, think: "As long as I like it, a wine is good". Go forth and live your life with one less shackle.