(Contributed by Guest Blogger ‘Bob’)
There is not a person reading this who has not had a Champagne breakfast. I will wager that at least half of the people reading (and I am being conservative) have woken up on the sofa next to a half-finished bottle of wine and poured a glass. I’m not judging you if you don’t judge me.
I did a quick google on the perfect breakfast wine, and although there were, say, half a dozen blogs on what wine suits the morning they were short, lacking in examples and frankly boring. Let me say from the off that I don’t think it’s a great idea to start every day with wine, nor indeed have wine every day, but it is a great idea, nay – essential, that some days are started like this.
The classic is, as I prefaced, champers. It works because it is light enough to cope with, interesting enough to enjoy and decadent enough to justify it. Most memorable for me was a bottle of DP 1993 about ten years ago. I shared it with my then girlfriend. ‘Pearls before swine’ comes to mind. There are the champagne facsimiles, of course, and other fizzy stuffs in their own right, all of which do their job remarkably well.
That brings me on nicely to the contentious issue of bucks-fizz. Bucks-fizz comes under the same bracket for me as Farley’s Rusks; lovely as a kid, but after the age of about ten it is impossible to enjoy in public without looking like a bit of a bell-end. Leave it with the porn and the train-sets, and enjoy , if you must, at home by yourself. There’s no need to be ashamed about drinking it, but there’s even less need to be proud…
A brilliant and totally overlooked brekky booze is Moscato d’Asti, or any of its Spanish style counterparts. Amazing with pancakes and bacon, its low-hitting abv and sweet fruitiness mean you can chug a load down and still carry on with what you had planned for the day. Maybe.
Sweetness is definitely a plus early in the day. For breakfast on my birthday a couple of years back I shared a bottle of Rieussec 2003. I didn’t have any food with this, I had it in bed with another then girlfriend, and it was awesome. That sweet, honeyed, botrytis character made me forget, for the hour or so it took us to finish it, that I felt like death. Tokaji’s brilliant for this too. When you have a furry tongue, spinning head and general feeling of disquiet, something sticky feels like a big-bosomed, maternal figure is hugging you, telling you it’s going to be OK, to the point now that I can’t drink it without having a mental picture of Hattie Jacques. Also, if you’ve had a skinful and 40 fags the night before, it is pretty much the only thing you can be sure of tasting.
So what about reds? Honestly, one of the most sublime breakfast wine/experiences I have ever had was when I was a student, and I polished off a bottle of Rioja, which I think was Caceres Crianza, with my fry-up. My only complaint about the whole thing was that the bacon was pretty overdone by my, yet another, then girlfriend (who didn’t drink wine – we didn’t last long at all). As everyone knows, the cysteine present in stuff like sausages and bacon is likely to help with the hangover, and proteins and tannins balance each other out. You need something quite tart to get through the grease but not over the top in terms of weight – Rioja, then, is perfect.
What I’m getting at is that most wines (or any other booze) are delicious at any time if you’re in the mood… Vinho Verde goes well with kippers as do Chilean Chardonnays with Welsh Rarebit. Kiwi Savs are nice with Eggs Benedict. Large parts of Italy wouldn’t blink at you having a glass of wine with your cornflakes and further East in Europe Schnapps,Slivovitz or any other local spirit is skulled with gusto at 7.30am. The Brits need to loosen up a bit. Maybe a drink would help?
Is there anything I wouldn’t recommend having at breakfast? Only very fine wines, particularly Burgundies and Clarets. One’s palate needs to be on top form to do them justice. I can’t really handle massive New World reds first thing either, nor piercing Chablis/Sancerre kinds of things. I can assure you from experience that barrel samples of en primeurs are not much fun at 08.00 hrs, although I’d hardly call that breakfast.
So what have I learned over the years? Well, relationships are enough to drive anyone to drink. It is tempting to say ‘women’ but I’m sure there are the same dynamics of irritation in gay relationships, and I’m sure my exes would say the same about me.
To conclude, then, is there anything that goes with every situation and every meal? Yep. It goes with every food and every occasion, is completely underrated and underpriced, but that’s fine with me. It’s potent but worth it. So what is it, I hear you cry? Simple. Sherry. Sherry goes with everything, is refreshing and utterly beautiful. Last Christmas day morning after we’d done the obligatory Champagne, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, I cracked a bottle of Manzanila Pastrana whilst starting on the stuffings. Singing along with Radio 3 I don’t think I can picture a happier moment. So next time you fancy a drink first thing, ignore your fizz and juice and grab some Fino with your black pudding, I promise it will change your life.