When it comes to wines on offer at Nashville, Tennessee's pretty house of steak Union Common, sommelier Sam Stoppelmoor doesn't just go heavy on French, Italian, and American reds. His globally-cured bottle list includes selects from Slovenia, Lebanon, and South Africa, plus options out of France's Jura and Savoie regions. Below, Stoppelmoor attacks breakfast imbibing, as it relates to wine and eggs.
Q: What kind of wine pairs with morning egg dishes?
Stoppelmoor: Eggs are notoriously difficult to pair with wine. They usually fall into that "I hope this works" wine pairing category along with artichokes and asparagus. Egg yolks coat the palate and can give a metallic taste with certain wines. At the very least, they prevent flavors in the wine from being tasted at all. It is for that reason that I look to a sommelier’s two best friends when pairing wine with eggs—bubbles and acidity. The effervescence in sparkling wine will lift any residue from the egg yolk that may be hindering flavor. Acidity will work to cut through any richness. Crisp rosé and smooth, high acid reds can also work. Try to stay clear of wines with high tannins. They will quickly overpower the delicacy of the egg, and you will lose any balance the dish may have had.
...I look to a sommelier’s two best friends when pairing wine with eggs—bubbles and acidity.
Another good guideline to go by is to drink wines that come from the region where the dish or ingredients originated. If you are making an omelet with prosciutto and Parmesan, reach for a good sparkling wine from Emilia Romagna like La Collina’s "Lunaris" Malvasia Secco NV ($20). Driven by aromas of peach, white flowers, and inorganic earth, it has great acidity and enough body to stand up to the salty prosciutto. Also, be cautious of sauces. They can be the main flavor component of the dish and will contribute greatly to how a wine interacts with food. Here are a few examples of pairings I have found to be successful:
Pierre Moncuit "Cuvée Pierre Moncuit-Delos" Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs NV, Champagne, France ($40): This is my go-to for Sunday brunch and for my longtime favorite brunch dish, eggs Benedict. Pierre Moncuit is a grower-producer. That means he owns his own vineyards and makes wine from those vineyards. This farmer fizz is made with 100 percent chardonnay grapes, creating a wine with great energy and focus. The combination of vibrant acidity and crisp effervescence makes it the perfect wine to cut through that rich hollandaise and runny yolk of a good eggs Benny.
Pascal Potaire "Les Capriades" Pet’Sec NV, Loire Valley, France ($23): If you have ever spent time in the Loire Valley, particularly around Touraine, you probably had soft-boiled eggs at least once for breakfast. It’s not necessarily a specialty, and certainly not a delicacy. Rather it’s just some of the freshest, most delicious eggs you will ever encounter. Serve them with a fresh baguette and a chunk of chèvre cheese and you are good to go. For a simple, delicious dish like that, you need a simple, delicious wine. The style of pétillant-naturel, or pét-nat, is meant for easy drinking. A style between fully sparkling and still, it creates a slightly bubbly palate and retains the grape’s primary characteristics, while also producing flavors reminiscent of a good dry cider. Pascal Potaire crafts one of my favorites in his "Les Capriades" bottling. Composed primarily of chenin blanc with a small percentage of cabernet franc, the wine has a very slight sweetness and is extraordinarily drinkable. Reigning in at 11 percent alcohol by volume, this makes a great wine for when you are actually eating your breakfast egg dishes for breakfast.
Try to stay clear of wines with high tannins.
Domaine Tempier Rosé 2014, Bandol, France ($40): Caution: If you serve this with scrambled eggs and bacon, you will never look at breakfast the same. This is not your quaffable, characterless rosé. This wine has gusto. Crafted from the Mourvedre grape with grenache and cinsault blended in, Domaine Tempier produces a rich rosé with not only fresh red fruits on the palate, but notes of rosemary and thyme that interplay with the eggs. It even has a hint of black pepper that matches perfectly with the bacon. Try this. You will not be disappointed.
La Kiuva Arnad-Montjovet, Vallée d’Aosta, Italy 2014 ($16): When your egg dish has a tomato-based sauce, like poached eggs in fresh tomato sauce with toast, try this light red wine from northwest Italy. La Kiuva is a small co-op in Vallée d’Aosta that produces nebbiolo (or picotendro, as they call it) in a style with which you may not be familiar. It is less in the style of Barolo and Barbaresco, and more in the style of a light Beaujolais. Many of the bottles I have tried even have a slight spritz to them. What makes it unique is that you still get the beautiful aromatics from the nebbiolo grape, but without the harsh tannins that would overpower a breakfast egg dish. If you decide to add mushrooms to your dish, all the better.
Bodegas Valdespino "Inocente" Fino Sherry NV, Jerez, Spain ($9/375ml): With this wine, look to the Spanish breakfast holy trinity: eggs, potatoes, and chorizo. Sherry has become a bit of a secret weapon for food and wine pairing, and the fino style really shines with chorizo and egg dishes. Valdespino’s "Inocente" is about as traditional as it gets. Fermented in large old oak casks and using indigenous yeasts, this wine transports you to a place. It has notes of sea spray, hay, and salted almond, with flavors on the palate of citrus peel, green olive, and herbs. This wine is an exception to the "bubbles and acidity" rule. Instead, it uses oxidation, citrus, and salty flavors, and a slightly elevated alcohol level to cleanse the palate and enhance the dish. For a traditional Spanish dish, look for a good tortilla de patatas con chorizo recipe. Otherwise, just find some fresh tortillas and have the best breakfast taco and wine pairing you can imagine.
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