How to drink sparkling wine with breakfast
Every weekday morning as a kid, I would eat Shreddies and honey before school. Those latticed squares of whole grain never tasted better though, than on a Sunday night, when we would eat a bowl before bed instead of dinner. After a huge Sunday lunch, cereal - or toast and marmite at a push - was all we wanted. It seemed so exciting to be eating breakfast at nighttime.
In adulthood, booze at breakfast is as close as I’ve come to tapping into that cereal-before-bed feeling. Not every breakfast, mind. I don’t want to feel the same about Champagne in twenty years as I do now about Shreddies. Once in a while though, I will drink with breakfast, or brunch.
And simply by reversing drinking times, those drinks seem to take on a whole new attractiveness. It’s almost like meeting them for the first time when you pour pre-noon.
I say this, because I’m not going to recommend anything quirky or inventive. I’ll stretch to squeezing an orange in the morning; but making a sugar syrup, no chance! Too early for that. So I’m sticking to the classics that really, truly deserve to be seen and tasted in morning light.
Champagne Keeps the Dream Alive
Champagne is the perfect wine to escort you out of a dreamy sleep into a dreamy day. Tiny pearls of pale gold or rose racing up to meet your lips, what a joy to wake to. In the morning, the aromas and flavours of brioche, citrus and butter seem to fit so well at the breakfast table. And although it might seem unlikely, Champagne is a brilliant wine for a fry-up - it cuts through the fat of the sausages and sidles up to the bacon, it can handle the egg and loves the fried bread. If the budget allows, go vintage for full effect. The older the Champagne, the more golden, nutty and toasty it gets. The trouble though, is where to go from vintage Champagne. Perhaps best not to leave the house, except to move from bed to table and back.
There are many other smart options if you want to venture away from Champagne but drink something similar in style, where the bubbles are achieved through a second fermentation in bottle known as the "traditional" method. Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Tasmania, Argentina, Brazil; there are great sparkling wines pouring out from everywhere these days, and it’s absolutely worth asking your local wine merchant about their favourite traditional method sparkling outside of Champagne. Cavas from Spain and Cremants from France offer amazing value if you are boozing on a budget, which sounds much seedier than I mean it to.
Moscato d'Asti Gently Wakes You Up
Another sparkling wine worth considering while the sun rises and a fresh fruit salad is magically conjured from the fridge is Moscato d'Asti. Moscato Bianco is the grape and Asti is the tiny town in Piedmont, Italy around which this grape is grown and where the wine must be made. Bubbly sweet wines, when bad, are a joke. You're better off with a can of gin and tonic. However, when made well, they are such a delight in an English country garden kind of way - all blossoms and pea shoots and ripe apples and pears. Moscato is a feather light, dainty fizz with barely there alcohol (5.5%). I think it's best served super chilled, the acidity feels tauter and the bubbles behave better under strictly cold conditions. Call me controversial, but I think Moscato d'Asti is way better with strawberries and cream than Champagne.
The Bellini Adds Excitement to Your Morning Routine
Lastly, the Bellini. We are approaching Peach season (the end of June) and then it’s breakfast smoothies galore. But out with the yoghurt and apple juice, lengthen that peach purée and add a drop of lemon, then a few more drops of Prosecco. (This may sound simple, but actually isn't. For the perfect Bellini, skin the peaches by dropping them in boiled water for 30 seconds. Then, working quickly, blend the fruit with lemon and before it goes from pretty pink to muddy orange, pour the purée in the glass. Just watch when you pour in the Prosecco, it foams all over the place. Best of luck!)
NB: On the Bucks Fizz front, I don't know the history, but any recipe that suggests adding fruit juice to Champagne is bananas. I read on a drinks site that Bucks Fizz is for when "plain Champagne just will not do!" What? Who are these people for whom plain Champagne won't do? And also, if you're going to add orange juice, you might as well buy a cheaper sparkling wine because all the subtleties of the Champers will be lost under the orange juice.
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