Picking a favorite wine grape variety is perhaps not as difficult as choosing a favorite wine variety, but that still doesn’t make it easy. As Claire Coppi mentions below, it’s like asking someone – or at least the wine lovers that we asked – who their favorite child is. Nevertheless, we asked some of the SOMM TV cast members that you know and love what their favorite wine grape variety is and why.
We were prepared for the classics, like Pinot Noir, for its infamous tendency to drive winemakers beyond their comfort zone. Or, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, for pushing wine from California onto the world stage following the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting. And perhaps even Riesling, for its complexity and underground buzz among the sommelier community. We received a few different answers, although there was one particular stand out favorite.
Keep reading to discover the undoubted front runner.
Chardonnay. It’s so versatile and makes some of my favorite wines including Champagne, white Burgundy, and Chablis. —Jill Zimorski
That is one of the toughest questions that I am constantly asked. I don’t have children, but it’s like asking me to pick my favorite kid. If push came to shove, and there was a gun to my head, I would have to say Chardonnay. I love the versatility of the grape and the huge spectrum of wines it produces from different regions; white Burgundy, Champagne, Central Coast, and Oregon. They are all so special in their unique way, and I want to drink them all! —Claire Coppi
Nebbiolo. Are you serious? —DLynn Proctor
Chardonnay! I wish I had a cooler answer, but Chardonnay really is my favorite variety. I love its broad range of expressions from overt, to subtle, to sparkling. And nothing is better than a top white Burgundy with some age on it. —Kelli White
Pinot Meunier made me fall in love with wine. Unusually I tasted it as a still red wine before enjoying it in champagne. The Eyrie Pinot Meunier was that first example and blew my mind for how it brings together a modest frame with so much intensity and complex layering. With age, it becomes more profound. It’s a sleeper wine – it sneaks up on you, tricks you into thinking it is simple, but then won’t let you stop thinking about it. In the right hands, grown in the right place – Pinot Meunier needs to avoid too much heat or direct sun exposure – the variety can be truly beautiful and counter to the old myths; when grown and made well, it can age incredibly too. —Elaine Chukan Brown
Chardonnay. Chard keeps it versatile with plenty of regional styles and winemaking/farming expressions. I often choose wines for the texture, and Chardonnay offers that whether I’m looking for zingy acidity, dancing bubbles, or complex and creamy wine. —Maryam Ahmed
I don’t believe in the term “favorite” for most things in my life. But if I was FORCED to choose – with a gun to my head – to pick one wine variety to drink for the rest of my life… Riesling would be the one. —Matthew Kaner
Nebbiolo. —Jeff Porter
Chardonnay. Yeah, I said it. Chardonnay. This variety is rightfully heralded for its amazing wines that come from all across the Côte d’Or. From the “bald hill” of Montrachet to the humble vines of the Hautes Côtes. Chardonnay shines extraordinarily from all over Burgundy. But why? In my opinion, because Chardonnay is as transparent to terroir as any variety while also being just the right amount of submissive to the winemaker’s vision. Sure, sometimes it is a pushover (insert caricature image of Chard here) but don’t blame this spectacular grape for someone’s overzealousness. —Jonah Beer
Gamay all day. —Meghan Zobeck
I try to drink as widely as I can, and I’m generally pretty delighted by everything I’m introduced to, but if I had to pick just one grape, I’d have to be uninspired but honest and say, Chardonnay. If I could afford to drink white Burgundy and Champagne regularly, I absolutely would. —Sarah Thomas
Chardonnay in the Summer, Pinot Noir in the Winter. Chablis and Red Burgundy if you want to get specific. —Sabato Sagaria