Champagne, sparkling wine add zest to Sunday brunches

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMarch 4, 2014 

In 1895, English writer Guy Beringer envisioned brunch as a breakfast-lunch hybrid meal served late morning to early afternoon on Sunday, a meal that "would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers."

"Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting," he wrote. "It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week."

Don't you love that? Now add a glass of Champagne or sparkling wine - today's preferred brunch beverage of many - and you've got all the ingredients for a terrific meal.

I'm not sure how Champagne and sparkling wines came to be a staple at brunch, but I can tell you why they work so well. The secret lies in their versatility.

They generally have a high acid content that allows them to cut through the fat content of foods and sauces, typical of what you'll find on a standard brunchtime spread.

Champagne and sparkling wine with hash browns or fried potatoes? No problem. How about crispy bacon or sausage? Easy stuff. What about eggs Benedict, any style, with a creamy hollandaise sauce? Now you're talking a food-and-wine combination that wineophiles dream of.

Here's one word of advice that may make me sound like a wine snob, but I'll put it out there anyway: Please don't turn your good Champagne into a mimosa by diluting it with orange juice. Champagne is pricy and should best be enjoyed on its own, not in a cocktail.

But don't go too far in the opposite direction by serving a mimosa with a cheap, overly carbonated sparkling wine. There are plenty of good sparklers in the $9- to $15-a-bottle range that taste great and work perfectly well with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Here are three sparkling wines to consider for your next brunch:

Vandori Non-Vintage Extra Dry Prosecco (about $10) - Light and slightly fruity, this Italian sparkler makes an excellent starter wine. Gentle pear and melon flavors lead off before transitioning into a whisper of honey with a trace of minerality.

Segura Viudas Non-Vintage Brut Cava (about $10) - This reliable Spanish sparkling wine is an outstanding value that never disappoints. It carries a nice heady quality with a base of lemon zest and green apple, underlying notes of toasted almond and a clean finish.

Veuve Clicquot Non-Vintage Yellow Label Brut (about $50 to $57) - Lovely clover and green melon aromatics are lifted on micro-fine bubbles, while layers of Golden Delicious apple and yeasty brioche in the glass melt into a slightly creamy finish. This is true, classic Champagne that consistently hits all of the right notes and is one of my all-time favorites.

Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.

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