You've got a salmon on your barbecue and you're ready for a patio party. Chardonnay can be the perfect companion, and Master of Wine Barb Phillip shares some of her expertise on how to pick a fine bottle.

First, you should look for balance and complexity, a wine that refreshes the mouth but has some body.

Chardonnays can be a bit confusing because there's such a range of styles and flavours. Many would argue that chardonnay is the most noble grape, Barb says. 

The style depends on the soil where the grape is grown, how it's grown, and the climate. Barb says it can be high acid and crisp, or mellow and creamy. In the making of the wine you can also play with the process as well to get different results. 

In general, warmer climates will have a fuller-bodied, lower acid chardonnay, good for oak aging. Look for those wines in places like California.

If you want a crisp green apple chardonnay, you want to look to Chablis in France. The northern part of France is really the home of chardonnay, says Barb.

If you're looking for a softer version you should head south, where the oaked styles are more common. There are also some beautiful Australian versions that are very balanced, with buttery and vanilla notes.

Barb Philip, On the Coast's Master of Wine

Barb Philip is On the Coast's Master of Wine.

Barb's recommendations:

  • Thelema 'Sutherland' Chardonnay 2010. Elgin. South Africa. $19.99 
  • Quails' Gate Chardonnay 2012. Okanagan Valley. $19.99 
  • Heggies Chardonnay 2011. Eden Valley. Australia. $27.99 
  • Joseph Burrier Pouilly-Fuissé 2011. Burgundy. France.