Spring is just around the corner, which means sunshine and warmer temperatures are on the way. Sunny weekends are the ideal time for outdoor fun like hiking a local trail or shopping at your neighborhood farmer’s market. But they’re also the perfect time to meet up with friends for brunch. Preferably enjoyed while dining al fresco with a glass of something delicious in hand. Most people equate brunch with bottomless mimosas or the latest Champagne cocktail. Yet there are a variety of wines that make mouthwatering pairings with popular brunch dishes. Next time you’re ordering brunch drinks or wondering what brunch beverages to serve at home, these five wines are sure to please.
Chenin Blanc is an intriguing white grape variety capable of producing a vast range of styles. From lean, dry white wines to aromatic sparklers and rich, luscious sweet wines, there is a lot to explore in the world of Chenin Blanc. Moreover, New World examples like those from South Africa are typically oak aged similar to many new world Chardonnays. However, when it comes to the best brunch drinks, reach for an off-dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley.
This French wine region is home to the gold standard for the grape. The appellations of Touraine and Anjou-Saumur produce the best off-dry styles. Chenin Blanc wines have high acidity with moderate body and alcohol. Therefore, this French white wine is very food friendly. Off-dry styles tend to be a bit riper with flavors of pear, peach, yellow apple, quince, chamomile, and honey. Plus, they have some of the grape’s natural sugars left in the wine for a touch of sweetness.
The hint of residual sugar, fruit forward flavors, and high acidity of Chenin Blanc pair beautifully with classic fruit based, sweet brunch dishes. If banana pancakes, blueberry waffles, french toast, or raspberry crepes are on the menu, then an off-dry Chenin Blanc has all the characteristics to match. The wine’s residual sugar will balance out the sweetness of syrup or other sweet sauces. Whereas the fruit in these dishes will allow the wine’s fruity aromatics shine.
Aromatic white wines are always a great option for refreshing brunch drinks made even more enjoyable when paired with the right dishes. Adored worldwide, Sauvignon Blanc is an easily accessible aromatic white w ineand likely to be on the wine list just about anywhere you dine.
The characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc vary by region. Although citrus notes of lime and grapefruit along with juicy acidity are consistent qualities of these wines. This aromatic grape also expresses herbaceous flavors thanks to compounds called methoxypyrazines. Green bell peppers have the same compounds. Hence why some Sauvignon Blanc wines have notes of green bell pepper or grass-like aromas.
France and New Zealand are two countries recognized for their distinctive styles of Sauvignon Blanc. Sancerre lies in the east of the Loire Valley and produces both premium and more moderately priced styles. Sancerre wines are crisp and lean with herbal and mineral flavors layered amidst lime, gooseberry, and grapefruit. Whereas nearby Pouilly-Fumé has subtle smokey notes. On the other hand, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc takes on a more tropical character with flavors of passionfruit, gooseberry, kiwi, and herbaceous aromas.
When it comes to brunch drinks, Sauvignon Blanc is the best wine pairing for dishes like avocado toast, bagels with smoked salmon lox served with capers, onions, and dill, just about any brunch salad, and herb-loaded frittatas. The green, herbal qualities of these brunch dishes brilliantly complement the herbaceous quality of Sauvignon Blanc while highlighting the wine’s fruity notes. As the wine’s high acidity nicely contrasts the fats in smoked salmon or avocados.
Though a rich, buttery, oaked Chardonnay might not have a place at the brunch table, there’s definitely room for a crisp, acid-driven Chablis. This French appellation lies at the northernmost part of Burgundy. Unlike many of its neighboring appellations to the south and many New World styles, Chablis is unoaked. This Chardonnay is instead adored for its zippy acidity and flavors of green apple and citrus.
Wines from Chablis Premier Cru or Chablis Grand Cru vineyards grow on hillside sites with the best aspects in the region. They’re able to obtain a somewhat riper fruit character, though still citrus oriented, with enhanced body and balanced acidity. Most Chablis wines are fermented and stored in stainless steel or concrete tanks to retain the pure fruit character of Chardonnay.
Besides Champagne, Chablis is one of the best brunch drinks for quiche lorraine, chicken and waffles, eggs benedict, and egg salad tartines. The wine’s high acidity cuts through the richness of egg-based dishes, hollandaise sauce, and fried chicken. Chablis refreshes your palate with each sip so you can enjoy the next bite even more than the last.
In terms of brunch drinks, rosé is a no-brainer. It’s always fresh, generally fruity, possibly herbaceous, and pairs well with everything. There are a ton of rosés to choose from, such as lightly colored, thirst-quenching Provençal rosés or the fuller-bodied, deeply colored styles from Tavel. Generally, a Grenache rosé is the ultimate style for brunch wine pairings. Grenache happens to be one of the main grapes in both rosés from Provence and Tavel, along with several other rosés made around the world.
Grenache rosé is irresistibly fruity bursting with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon. These wines frequently express aromas of dried orange peel and herbal characteristics, too. In addition to the south of France, Northern Spain is also well known for its Garnacha Rosado. New World regions like McLaren Vale in South Australia or California’s Central Coast produce particularly expressive styles.
These fruity flavors coupled with Grenache’s moderate acidity and relatively higher alcohol make it a match for heartier brunch dishes like Denver omelets or huevos rancheros. The Mexican flavors of huevos rancheros really pop alongside the red fruit notes in Grenache. Ditto for the bell pepper, cheddar cheese, and ham loaded Denver omelet.
Red wine lovers in search of the best brunch drinks tend to reach for lighter-bodied red wines like Gamay or Pinot Noir. Though these are great options, stepping outside the box to a bolder red wine like Tempranillo works well, too. Tempranillo is a thick-skinned grape which needs hot, sunny climates to ripen fully and thrive. Consequently, this is Spain’s premier black grape grown throughout the country. Notably, the region of Rioja produces the best Spanish Tempranillo.
Tempranillo has moderate to high acidity, body, and alcohol with refined tannins. These red wines are full of red cherry, fig, strawberry, cedar, or tobacco aromas. If Rioja is available for brunch, be sure it’s a Joven or Crianza style. These have the most minimal amount of oak aging and, therefore, are more fruit forward and less tannic. Rioja Reserva and Gran Reserva styles spend an extensive number of months aging in oak barrels and require cellaring before the bottles are at their best.
Brunch dishes such as breakfast burritos, chilaquiles, or breakfast hash with sausage are outstanding pairings for Tempranillo. The dark fruits and earthy undertones of Tempranillo hit all the right notes alongside the spicy, savory, greasy, or cheesy qualities of these brunch classics.
This article was originally written for Palate Club.