If you can drink a mimosa for breakfast, then wine for breakfast is fine too. In fact, one could make a pretty strong argument to ditch the OJ altogether and just drink wine.
So, don’t feel bad if you pop a beautiful breakfast bottle with your weekend brunch. There’s no shame in it. Even when someone pokes you with, “Oh, I see you having wine before five!” Raise your eyebrows and say, “I bet you wish you could join me.”
Smashed Avocado Toast
Wine Pairings: Sauvignon Blanc, Picpoul de Pinet, Soave, Grüner Veltliner
Imagine a thick slice of crusty bread that’s covered with smashed avocado, drizzled with EVO (extra-virgin olive oil), dusted with cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes, and sprinkled with fresh green herbs. Need more protein? Top the whole shi-bang with a poached egg.
The perfect wine for the avocado ensemble plays up the green theme and adds well-needed acidity – like a squeeze of lemon. Sauvignon Blanc is a great place to start.
Chicken & Waffles
Wine Pairings: Lambrusco di Grasparossa, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Sparkling Shiraz, or Brachetto d’Acqui
Southern fried chicken deserves a very special kind of waffle:
- It’s got to be round.
- It’s got to be spongy.
- It’s got to have an ice-cream-scoop-sized dollop of butter on top.
The perfect wine plays the roll of a cool refreshing iced tea. Just like iced tea, chilled red wines have tannins. The tannins are very useful in this pairing because tannins help scrape fat from your tongue. You’re going to need it.
Biscuits & Gravy
Wine Pairings: Barbera, Blaufränkisch, or Cabernet Franc (serve slightly chilled)
Thick, gooey, salty gravy on top of fluffy biscuits: this is the quintessential greasy spoon breakfast. With every bite, you’ll find yourself reaching for something wet to wash it down.
The ideal wine is going to have a touch of tannin (again, to scrape the fat) and moderate acidity to quench your thirst. Barbera makes an ideal choice. The high acidity in this Italian red is perfect and the flavors of anise complement breakfast sausage perfectly.
Wine Pairings: Sangiovese Rosé, Garnacha Rosado, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Saignée-Method Rosé
You can hate, but the Denver Omelette is still one of the most well-balanced breakfast choices out there. Little sautéed cubes of ham, bell pepper, mushroom, and onion are set into place with a handful of cheese and folded into an egg blanket. Savory food for umami people.
There is a lot of umami in this dish which means you’re going to need a wine with a little more “oompa” than white, but maybe not as much “oomph” as a red. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yep. The right rosé will do nicely! Go for high-flavor versions.
Wine Pairings: Moscato d’Asti
Remember Fabienne in Pulp Fiction? When she says “blueberry pancakes?” Those are the ones! They are almost perfect on their own. Until you bite into one and start chewing, and the pancake gets stuck to the roof of your mouth, and there’s not enough syrup, and you feel like you need something to wash it down.
Thank god (or the Northern Italians) for Moscato d’Asti. It’s the P.P.W. (perfect pancake wine).
French Toast with Bacon
Wine Pairings: Dry Riesling
If you’re going to do French toast, you might as well use thick cut brioche. Otherwise, why make the effort? Also, what better complement than a couple pieces of thick cut bacon. While we’re at it, perhaps a fried egg too to finish it off?
For this pairing, I’d reach for a dry Riesling in a second. Riesling hams up the bacon and the dryness will help counteract the syrup on the French toast. As a pairing, Riesling acts as a palate cleanser with its sky high acidity, which is really going to help with morning egg breath.
Soy Chorizo Tofu Scramble
Wine Pairings: Zweigelt (served chilled)
There is a small, but growing, number of us who believe breakfast doesn’t need eggs to be great. Enter the tofu scramble. Not only is it healthier, but it tastes so amazing when crumbled with the proper spice blend (turmeric, garlic, cumin, coriander, soy sauce, and chili flakes). For a double dose of flavor, use soy chorizo. The only wonder is why this dish is so hard to find in brunch spots throughout America.
This flavor-packed dish with intense spicing needs a wine to help quell the burn. For this, we’re leaning towards a light red wine like Zweigelt. This Austrian red tastes great when served slightly chilled and will embellish the flavor profile without making you feel over-spiced.
Wine Pairings: Extra Dry Prosecco, Torrontés, Vinho Verde
Eggs Benedict is an American classic. It’s perfectly toasted english muffin halves topped with crispy Canadian bacon, a perfectly poached egg, and a generous pour of creamy hollandaise sauce. It might actually be the most sophisticated brunch that North Americans can claim as their own. Also, if you find a place that does it well, you should consider yourself very lucky!
For this pairing you’ll want a wine with a touch of sweetness (like, a teensy touch) to highlight the sweet-savory flavors of Canadian bacon. (Just like pineapple does on pizza!) This is why we opted for and Extra Dry Prosecco (vs. Brut). The sugar levels aren’t noticeable – it’s just enough to bring out the fruit.
Wine Pairings: Arneis, Assyrtiko, Gavi
The word frittata comes from Italy and means “fried.” As you can imagine, there are many variants of the frittata. Whichever variation you choose, the real secret to a great frittata is well-beaten eggs and extremely low heat. For this breakfast wine pairing, the Italian-esque variant almost usually always includes roasted peppers, broccoli rabe, and a couple of great, flavorful Italian cheeses (such as Parmigiano and Provolone).
This pairing is surprisingly open and allows for a wide number of potential matches. That said, frittatas are definitely guilty of egg-breath, so wine with higher acidity is really a great place to start, which is why we opted for lean white wines. Arneis and Gavi are all great Italian whites worth diving into. And, if you really want to blow your mind, you might try the Greek wine, Assyrtiko, which has both high acidity and salinity. Awesome.
Note: For those who really want to dig in this breakfast, check out the Spanish version called tortilla de patatas with potato!
Caramelized Onion and Gruyère Quiche
Wine Pairings: Chardonnay, Chablis, Grechetto, Grenache Blanc
The French do it right when it comes to cooking: few ingredients without overwhelming the palate. Take French onion soup. It’s so simple, and yet so unbelievably good. Yes, French preparation is hard, but your ingredient list is relatively simple. Although there is one secret ingredient to this quiche recipe that makes is amazing: a pinch of nutmeg.
For this pairing, going with a French classic seemed like the only right answer. Chardonnay does magical things to your mouth when paired with gruyère. The unoaked styles, such as Chablis have tingling high acidity too, which will help with “egg breath.” Of course, there are many great places around the world to find terrific Chardonnay so you don’t have to stick to Burgundy if you don’t want to foot the bill!
Wine Pairings: Gamay, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Valpolicella, Earthy reds
The only thing wrong with a breakfast burrito is that eating the whole thing at once can result in a “food coma.” To avoid this, cut it in half (and hide the other half somewhere out of view). Cutting it has the added bonus of revealing all the delicious layers of eggs, cheese, beans, potatoes, meat and other goodies. Imagine yourself sitting there, hot sauce in one hand, burrito in the other… anyone who’s lived in the Southwest knows that this is the combination for happiness.
For this pairing, go for an earthy red wine. You don’t really need something as fancy as Gamay, but the crunchy earthy finish of this wine (particularly those from Beaujolais) will take your breakfast burrito to a whole new level. If you want to give your pairing a little more Spanish appeal, try a Tempranillo, you will not be disappointed.
Wine Pairings: Tawny Port, PX Sherry, Muscat de Rivesaltes
One of the few breakfasts on this list that that you can eat every morning and never feel guilty.
For this pairing, we decided to re-imagine the wine as one of the typical ingredients that top oatmeal. So, you would take a bite of oatmeal and follow-up with a little sip of Tawny port. The Tawny would take on the roles of sugar, cinnamon and raisins all at once! You won’t need a lot, maybe just a 3–4 oz of wine to make this magical pairing.
Yogurt Bowl with Bananas, Sliced Almonds & Honey
Wine Pairings: Gewürztraminer, Alsatian Muscat, Austrian Muskateller
Yogurt bowls are the latest craze popping up all over the US. On the positive side, it’s really made us think differently about the importance of quality ingredients. You can’t make good yogurt without good dairy!
For this pairing, we really wanted to focus on a wine with strong aromatics. This is because yogurt offers very little in the way of aromas, and thus, aromatic wines can really add more perceived flavor to the scene. Gewürztraminer with it’s intense aromas of lychee, rose, grapefruit and allspice will really take your everyday yogurt bowl to the next level. Because of the tropical fruit notes in this wine, it really lends to the toppings of bananas and almonds.
Crepe with Strawberry & Ricotta
Wine Pairings: Crémant d’Alsace Rosé, Crémant de Loire Rosé, Sparkling Malbec Rosé
Imagine fluffy ricotta cheese with a drizzle of honey rolled into a warm crepe and then topped with strawberries and powdered sugar. It’s one of those items you want to eat as soon as it hits the plate.
For this pairing, a rosé bubbly wine is the perfect choice. Not only will the color of the rosé complement this breakfast, but the carbonation will create a burst of creaminess after each bite.
Bourbon Peach Bread Pudding
Wine Pairings: Vin Santo, Vinsanto, Moscatel de Setúbal, Moscatel-based Sherry
This could be dessert, but if you add some breakfast sausages (maybe Jimmy Dean sage?) it suddenly becomes an all-American breakfast feast.
For this pairing, we exchanged the typical caramel topping for a glass of Vin Santo. Vin Santo offers all the same caramel-like notes along with some more complex flavors of pecan, white cherries and vanilla. Fantastic!
Wine Pairings: Oloroso Sherry
Thick-cut slices of grilled bread slathered with a healthy smear of roasted peanut butter and berry jam make the best sandwich. Why this isn’t a common item on brunch menus is a still a mystery to us. Even kids love it. Someone please steal this idea.
For this pairing, we wanted to let the sweetness of the jam speak for itself. So, instead of the typical dessert wine pairing of Ruby Port (which would still be great) we chose a unique wine oddity called Oloroso Sherry. This is a type of dry Sherry that spends extended periods in oak. The oak aging gives it additional smoky, roasted nut aromas over a lean, salty palate. It’s fantastic and honestly, there’s really nothing quite like Oloroso Sherry. Well worth trying.