Benziger, Family Chardonnay, California

In 1886 Congressional debates took place over “bogus butter.” That’s right, there was a fight over oleomargarine (also known as butterine).

In his dissertation, Chris Burns writes:

“In particular, the debates show the issue in the context of the following transcendent historic political themes: food and drug regulation; the internal revenue system; the size and role of the federal government; interstate commerce; protectionism; and regional and party differences on these issues. … The 1886 Oleomargarine Act is one event in an almost 100 year history of state and federal legislation to regulate oleomargarine and protect butter in the United States.”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t read the full dissertation, but what I did read was interesting. Especially given that “While Republicans almost unanimously supported the bill, the Democrats were split, with southerners nearly unanimous in opposition and northern and western Democrats more evenly split.” Now I could have told you prior to reading this that Southerners opposed oleomargarine. The south is all about butter. My grandmother would be appalled to find plant butter (made with avocado) in my ice box. But what does any of this have to do with the Benzinger Family Chardonnay?

Paired with Randy’s Hors d’oeuvres

Well, while I described the Chardonnay as very buttery, my dining companions (yes, another wine dinner at Randy’s Steakhouse) described it as margarine or even Oleo…. Thus the debate about butter versus margarine versus “plant butter” that ensued.

One of the interesting things about this wine, according to the wine distributor rep (Tom) is that it’s aged in Hungarian Oak – which means it should not have that buttery of a taste… which led my dining companions to state that meant it really was more oleo.

Regardless, the wine has a peppery scent that paired well with the appetizers of a beef taquito and cream cheese stuffed / bacon wrapped jalapeno. And it did cool the spice from the dipping sauce. But overall we thought a different wine would have been better.

Final Thoughts

In the end, we decided that much like margarine this is a mass produced Chardonnay that we really wanted to like, but couldn’t find enough reasons. I described it as ‘masquerading as old money’ with it’s buttery flavor and color. And while this is a pure varietal wine, we really decided it was a Monday at best, if we purchased it.

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