Saturday, 24 October 2009

Breakfast Wines

Champagne, historically, is the only alcoholic beverage you can drink for breakfast and people won't look sideways at you.

Does this mean that all other wines – and for that matter spirits – are forbidden before lunch?

A few weeks ago now I enjoyed plum bread, lightly toasted, with marcarpone, maple cure bacon and maple syrup and a Matusalem chaser for my breakfast.

Why should we not be able to enjoy a refreshing glass of Beaujolais to complement the bacon and eggs? Or a little Banyuls with the croissant and strawberry jam?

I am not suggesting that you need a belt of Bourbon (my favourite is Woodford Reserve) to kick-start the morning, but a little alcohol with breakfast can be a restoring and invigorating experience. In the Cognac region, home to some of France's longest-lived citizens, a farmer's breakfast will start with a glass of orange juice mixed with cognac. And the Italians, known for their zest for life is the envy of other nations, correct their morning espresso with grappa.

The champagne breakfast is an established gastronomic tradition - and a personal favourite - although a their are those who believe that champagne by itself is breakfast enough. They probably subscribe to the sentiments of Alain de Vogüé, a former director of Veuve Clicquot. Who was once asked when was the best time to drink champagne. His reply: 'Before, during and after.'

To my mind only the British truely understand breakfast, first of all, breakfast has to be cooked. It has to be substantial to set you up for the rigours of the day. Now, the pH of wine is about the same as the pH of our stomach acid, which should mean that wine aids in your digesting process. So my view would be that if you believe in a hearty breakfast, think about serving some wine to help ward off indigestion.

In my opinion nothing starts the day more properly than smoked salmon, savoy eggs, a wholemeal english muffin followed by pancakes with maple syrup and bacon served with a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut.

Personally, I think it is a sin to mix champagne with orange juice or anything else – a blasphemy for which perpetrators will have to face the wrath of Dionysus on the day of judgement. However, if you are foolhardy enough to transgress in this direction you might try grapefruit juice instead of orange juice or peach juice. But a warning: don't brush your teeth before you have champagne for breakfast. Colgate does nothing for Krug.

For those who are concerned about alcohol in the morning I have this advice: go for German Riesling from the Mosel. These wines can be as low as seven and a half percent alcohol and they will wake up your taste buds like nothing else.

Alternatively you can use wine in preparing your breakfast. Heating wine or spirits drives off the alcohol and you're left with the flavour. The Burgundians make a dish of eggs poached in Beaujolais. Once you got past the colour they are delicious and perhaps as a Chritmas treat why not have French toast made using egg nog instead of eggs and milk?

Other possibilities could include: Silvaner with ham quiche, dry Muscat with fresh fruit, Gewurztraminer with bagels and lox, Pinot Blanc with a cheese omelet.

Leave your options open. You never know what might work.

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