Traditionalists will tell you that a meal without wine is called breakfast. It is hard to pair the likes of pancakes and scones or coffee cake and granola with wine. The good news is … it can be done! And successfully, too.
If you are planning your Easter brunch, no doubt there will be a mix of sweet and savory on the table. Savory elements are no challenge for wine, but sweet items can be.
The rule of thumb is that if there is sugar in the dish, there needs to be sugar in the wine and at parity for the match to work. If the dish is sweeter than the wine, it will make the wine taste sour. If the wine is sweeter than the dish, no harm done.
If you are looking to put some "pop" into your Sunday breakfast or Sunday brunch by pouring wine … think sparkling. To make the match, be sure it has a little sweetness to it.
The Villa Jolanda Prosecco from Italy ($12) is off-dry and refreshing as is, but makes for a delectable brunch Bellini when a little peach liqueur or peach nectar is added. If you add orange juice, you get a mimosa, a little pomegranate juice creates a belle nuit, some cassis will make a Kir Royale.
These breakfast cocktails are as tasty as they are visually appealing, and bubbles add a nice festive touch to the party.
The Biltmore Pas de Deux Muscat Canelli (sparkling, $19) is absolutely delicious. It tastes "exuberant"…a fruit cocktail in a glass. Although sweet (2.2 percent residual sugar), it is balanced by a piquant acidity that makes the wine just dance across the palate. So pretty! Place a small strawberry on the rim of the glass or in the glass and listen to the "oohs and ahs."
Another option is to go for the dramatic … something red, sweet and sparkling. The non plus ultra in this category is the Banfi Rosa Regale ($20), a sparkling brachetto from Italy that tastes of wild forest berries. It delivers an exquisite balance of sweetness and vibrant acidity that will have your guests very preoccupied with their glasses while you finish the last of the brunch preparations.
But, what about those savory items? How do they fit in?
Breakfast meats — bacon, sausage, ham — are a tad salty as a rule. They can have a fiery element to them as in black pepper-crusted bacon, or a heat element to them as in hot sausages. Ham is sweet by nature and picks up salt in the curing process, but it can also be honey-baked, re-introducing more sugar.
Can the same wines handle this kind of challenge?
Yes, they can. (Hey, Prosecco for president!)
Salt and sugar is a magic combination. And it is the American diet. We honey-roast our peanuts, wrap prosciutto around melon, chocolate dip our pretzels, pour maple syrup on our bacon and drink soda while eating salty chips. We were even weaned on peanut butter (salt) and jelly (sugar) sandwiches.
So any of the sweet sparklers mentioned above will not only work, they will work well with savory breakfast fare.
But buyer beware: The food and wine combinations will be so good, you'll need more than you think of both.