Your intrepid liquor reporter has been brunching up a storm lately. It seems that every other weekend, someone wants to get together on Sunday morning for brunch to tell me all about how their kid won the 2nd grade spelling bee or some other such snore-inducing news.
Due to the considerable amount of time your humble narrator spends in seedy drinking establishments on Saturday nights, a Sunday morning brunch comes early enough for me to count as breakfast, and sometimes even comes early enough to call for a little hair of the dog.
A nice salted Caesar is the quintessential morning-after drink, as the Clamato juice replaces many of the minerals that were leached out of your system by the booze the night before.
However, in an effort to appear classy, your humble narrator has been ordering wines instead.
A word of warning – brunch is not the time for the lush and full bodied red wines of which you often hear wistful tales recounted in these very pages.
No, gentle reader, when you are out drinking before noon, and especially if there are those delightful little finger sandwiches being served, you must stick to the white and rosé wines, and a little fizzy sparkle in the glass doesn’t hurt either.
We’ve all enjoyed morning mimosas in the form of Champagne mixed with orange juice, and this is the safe go-to drink at brunch.
However, there is a larger world of morning wines out there. Prosecco is very popular, and the Italians sometimes call it the Poor Man’s Champagne.
Unlike Champagne, which is carbonated after the wine has been bottled, Prosecco uses a much less labour-intensive process, where the wine undergoes its bubble-producing secondary fermentation in huge airtight stainless steel vats, then is bottled under pressure.
The taste is similar to Champagne, and your humble narrator likes to tart up a simple glass of Prosecco with a splash of Chambord Raspberry Liqueur, or even a handful of frozen blueberries or cranberries.
Asti (aka Asti Spumante) is another Italian sparkling wine that goes well with your morning scones. Made from the particularly floral Muscat grape, the wine is heavily aromatic, and has notes of peach on the tongue.
Asti goes well with Belgian Waffles topped with fruit slices, or even a nice lemon tart.
The flavours in the glass are rich enough that this wine can be enjoyed by itself, but even an unrepentant boozer like your intrepid liquor reporter knows you need to disguise your before-noon tipples by enjoying them with food.
Rosé or Blush wines are also popular at brunch, although fewer of them are sparkling wines.
Rosé wines are generally made from red grapes, with the light colour a result of the grape skins being removed shortly after the grapes are pressed, leaving the white juice only barely kissed by the colour from the skins.
Since most of the tannins and flavours in the grapes come from the skins, this makes rosé wines taste more similar to whites than reds.
White Zinfandel is possibly the best known example of a rosé on this side of the pond, as the Californian winemakers have really made this grape their own.
Zinfandel is actually a red grape, but pressing the clear juice out and quickly removing the red skins will impart just a pale pink blush to the wine.
Just like a white wine, rosé is best served chilled, although not quite as chilled as a white. Around 20 minutes in the fridge is plenty, then serve before it gets too warm.
Rosé wines tend to be low in alcohol because the winemaker will remove the yeast before fermentation is complete, leaving some residual sugar, which makes for a slightly sweeter and fruit-forward wine.
Because rosé wines tend to be a bit sweeter than whites, those who prefer drier wines will sometimes add a splash of sparkling water or soda to tart it up a bit.
Feeling confident in his masculinity, your intrepid liquor reporter dutifully knocked back a few pale pink glasses of rosé this past Sunday morning, while listening with what I hoped look like rapt attention to the woes and injustices of my brunch companions’ latest triple bogey golf round at Lakeside Greens.
So, the next time you are out for brunch, remember there is more to morning boozing than just Champagne & OJ.