May the Brunch Brunch

By Sunny Brown

Category: Seasonal Feature

Being a breakfast at any time kind of guy, I often think about what wines to pair with the tasty but often rich foods that roll onto the dinner table in the guise of being breakfast. Of course there are the old stand-bys such as a mimosa or perhaps even a Bloody Mary if you really want to spice things up. But wine? Or at least wine without orange juice in it? Now that really is a quandary.

But the situation calls for on occasion. Easter brunch, entertaining friends or just looking for a great way to start off a Saturday- each of these special moments may call for just a little something extra than a strong cup of coffee or a glass of milk. The possibilities are just as endless as the myriad of tasty early-in-the-day vittles. After experimenting with various different breakfast type-substances and a few wines thrown in for, ahem, educational purposes I have come up with a few wine and breakfast-food pairings that will make you say to yourself “I can’t believe I have been missing this with my Count Chocula for all these years!”

To ease into things I suggest we start with a classical wine and food combo, that of Champagne and eggs. For centuries the riches of eggs have been cut with all sorts of
sparkling wines, as the creamy and minerally component of a fine Champagne can mix beautifully and harmoniously with the chewy and buttery components of a well-cooked egg. The other bright spot here is that eggs are versatile enough to be mixed with just about anything under the sun, be it leftover chicken in an omelet, smoked bacon in a scramble or topped with caviar for a truly decadent experience. In the case of the recipe below for a simple scramble of eggs with chives and asiago a touch of elegance is brought to the dish with the addition of a crisp and firm bottle of bubbly like the Pierre Peters. This Blanc de Blancs (meaning 100% Chardonnay) is about as crisp, citrusy and linear as it gets, and added to the scramble the wine mellows just a touch to bring out the floral, peach and green tea nuances.

Scrambled Eggs with Chives and Asiago
Champagne Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Champagne Grand Cru Brut

Stepping up our breakfast options just a notch we move into a delicious version of pancakes done in a heavy cast iron skillet with just a little butter and tossed with sautéed apples. Apples work well with a wide variety of wines, and the creamy elements of butter and pancake mix lead me to think of a wine with some body and some stuffing. At first I sampled a couple of wines that were slightly off-dry, which when combined with the slightly sweet style of the pancakes made the dish feel heavy and plodding. However, a wine of fresh peach, citrus and apple flavors with a medium body, silky feel, balancing acidity and a long finish seemed to be a much more natural fit. In this case the wine turned out to be the 2006 Old Vine Chablis from noted producer
Jean-Marc Brocard. Normally I would think a Chablis too crisp and clean for this style of cuisine, but the warmth of the 2006 vintage and the weight imbued from the older vines
allowed this wine to stand next to a heavy dish and compliment it rather than get lost in the folds.

Apple Pancakes
Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2006

And when it finally is time to turn on the spice, I can think of nothing better than a big plate of spicy hash with prosciutto and duck confit. With such a rich and flavorful dish, the wine to go with really needs to have some blood running through its veins. Think less Lauren Bacall and more Chuck Norris. For this particular spot a fine bottle of Syrah
from Melville in the Sta. Rita Hills of California’s Central Coast was just the trick. Grown in an exceptionally (for CA in the summer!) cool climate, this wine had all the requisite
fruit, smoke and spice expected from Syrah, but it also had an unexpected vein of white pepper and refreshing acidity which worked nicely with the fatty elements of the duck,
prosciutto, fried egg... oh just about everything in this dish.

Duck Confit Potato Hash with Prosciutto, Scallion and Fried Egg
Melville Syrah Santa Rita Hills Verna's Vineyard 2008