Sunday brunch is just about the most perfect meal of the week. What other occasion is there where it is perfectly acceptable, if not encouraged, to have a drink in the middle of the morning? Normally when having brunch, I'll have a glass of wine or a cocktail in tandem with a strong cup of coffee.
There are some classics when it comes to beverages of choice for this particular meal. The Mimosa (a blend of sparkling wine and orange juice) and the Bellini (a mix of peach juice or nectar and sparkling wine) are at the very top of the list, followed closely by the Bloody Mary.
Most restaurants in town have a specific bubbly that they pour for their wine-based brunch drinks. Choosing one to enjoy with brunch at home, however, can be a little overwhelming. For me, Prosecco is the way to go. This Italian sparkling wine is perfectly light, crisp, and refreshing, and it has bright acidity. It's just what is needed to blend with either orange or peach juice. The beauty of Prosecco is that it also tends to be lower in alcohol. Therefore, indulging in one or two glasses won't impede you from continuing on with your day. This sparkling wine's acidity can cut right through the richness of eggs and even the fat of bacon. The added bonus is the fact that having a glass of bubbly at noon on a Sunday makes one feel so civilized.
This is not to say that bubbles are the only way to go. There are many wines from just about every region that would pair perfectly with most brunch fare. Whether choosing sparkling or still, the wine must exhibit acidity and brightness. Italian and Austrian white wines tend to have both in abundance.
Some of the most enjoyable brunch fare is on the spicy side, such as chilaquiles, which is an egg, tortilla, and salsa dish with avocado. That extra kick of chili-pepper heat is a great fix for that late Saturday night, which might still be lingering over brunch.
When there is heat in the dish, I always like to reach for wines with an abundance of fruit. Supple Beaujolais, new-world Pinot Noirs, and ripe Dolcettos give the fruitiness needed to balance out spice and heat. Beaujolais is so underused, which is an absolute shame when considering how well they pair with food. The most exciting region for Italian red grapes (aside from Italy, of course) is Washington State. We don't have too many selections available to us in Memphis, so when you see one, buy it immediately.
• Zardetto Private Cuvée Brut, $15.99
• Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco, $20.99
• Canella Prosecco, $22.99
• Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone 2008, $10.99
• Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2007, $17.99
• Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2007, $15.99
• Stadt Krems Grüner Veltliner 2007, $17.99
• Domaine Pral Beaujolais, $17.99
• Leyda Pinot Noir 2008, $13.99
• Cooper Hill Pinot Noir 2008, $19.99
• Woodward Canyon Estate Dolcetto 2007, $23.99