Chardonnay wine and food pairing – Corn chowder, mussels and scallops

What goes well with Chardonnay wine?

Chardonnay is one of the top five wine grapes planted across the world.

But the actual taste of Chardonnay grapes is surprisingly neutral. What you taste in the glass depends greatly on winemaking style and wine terroir.

Here are the main characteristics to know:

  • Chardonnay grown in cool climates has noticeable acidity and flavours of plum apple and pear
  • Chardonnay grown in warmer climates has more citrus, peach and melon aromas
  • Chardonnay grown in very hot climates has tropical fruit aromas like banana and mango
  • Oaked and aged Chardonnay allows for great malolactic fermentation, which leads to softer acidity and buttery, creamy and nutty aromas

Deciding what goes well with Chardonnay will depend on these factors above.

Below, we deconstruct a rich and elegant Chardonnay wine and food pairing with corn chowder, mussels and scallops. The Chardonnay is UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay made in the cooler climate of Margaret River, Australia, that has spent time in French oak.

Chardonnay wine and food pairing

There are three methods to pair wine with food:

  • Pair body and texture
  • Pair beneficial flavours
  • Pair aromatic compounds

We’ve had a Cordon Bleu trained create a perfect pairing for UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay. Let’s run through each of the three methods.

Pair body and texture

UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay is medium-bodied thanks to the fruit and time in French oak barrels. This sets up for a successful food and wine pairing with pan-fried scallops and bacon in this corn chowder dish, and the rich chowder of creamed corn and stock broth.

A Chardonnay that has not been oaked is much more crisp and fruity, and a better match for lighter dishes and salads.

Pair beneficial flavours

One of the main wine pairing rules is: keep the wine more acidic than the food. This is because acidity stimulates the appetite and acts as a palate cleanser, which is a very welcome addition to this rich corn chowder.

Pair aromatic compounds

Chardonnay’s gentle buttery aromas are the result of winemakers aiming to promote the aroma compound diacetyl. It’s the main aroma compound in butter. it is a byproduct from malolactic fermentation where sharper malic acid is changed to softer lactic acid. This makes an UMAMU Chardonnay pair well with creamed corn.  

Dimethyl sulphide is a sulphur compound that’s the dominant aroma molecule in scallops and is also present in corn. These can create synergy with the low concentrations of sulphur compounds naturally present in the Chardonnay.

P.S. – You can read our guide to understanding food & wine pairing here.

Chardonnay with corn chowder, mussels and scallops


  • 500g frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 2 large potatoes peeled diced in 1 cm cubes
  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 200g streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 tin smoked mussels in oil
  • 12 scallops, drained and dried on paper towels
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  • 50ml cream (100ml if you would like an extra rich creamy mouthfeel)
  • olive oil and/or butter to pan fry
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, fry onion, garlic and bacon until bacon starts to brown, then add in creamed corn & kernels, stock and half the tin of mussels and oil. Bring soup to a boil then simmer until potatoes have softened (can be easily crushed with a spoon). Scoop and reserve 1-2 ladles of soup. Blend the rest of the soup until smooth. Add both reserved soups back into a saucepan and reheat. Season soup to taste, stir in half the chives and cream. Keep warm.
  2. In a frypan heat up oil/butter until pan is smoking. Season scallops then fry a few at a time for about a minute on each side so scallops are caramelised.
  3. To serve, ladle soup into warmed bowls, add 3 scallops a bowl, garnish with a few smoked mussels and drizzle with a few drops of mussel oil, sprinkle over some chopped chives.

 P.S. – You can buy UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay here.