You know, it isn’t just by chance that Jeff Stai, from the Twisted Oak Winery, wound up with the Twitter nickname Eljefetwisted. I mean, a man that calls his wines Pig Stai, Potty Mouth or River of Skulls is obviously not walking on the straight and narrow – and thank God, because his wines are all the better for it. (I tried them at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference – including The Spaniard, at the live blogging event – and thought they were really terrific).
Also, his Wine Blogging Wednesday themes are all the more… twisted for it. Which is how all the bloggers who gleefully joined in for WBW 53 are all writing about which wines you should have with breakfast. Or more precisely, with breakfast foods, no matter what the time of the day you want to have them. (Of course, having breakfast foods at night would be a little twisted, don’t you think?)
So, to start off, here’s a twist: my favorite breakfast food-wine combo isn’t with wine at all. It’s crèpes, the really thin kind of pancakes, with cider. That’s a classic match from Brittany, where the crèpes and the cider rule. I prefer a light, sparkling cider, with the bubbles and freshness giving the dish quite a lift. The combo works fine with the pancake and maple syrup classic from North America, but it’s tops with a “complète”, the standard, full-meal crèpe topped with ham, cheese and an egg, sunny side up.
Here’s a fine recipe for crèpes bretonnes, but do keep in mind that for the salty crèpes, to be more traditional, you should replace half the wheat flour with buckwheat flour, which will give your pancakes a deeper, more pungent flavour that goes very well with the ham, cheese and egg – or other salty components. Wheat-only crèpes are usually the dessert crèpes.
And here’s another twist. I’m probably almost as twisted as Jeff (although he is taller than I am – and I’m 6′ 4″!), since I already wrote a post about breakfast foods and wine, suggesting wine with eggs en meurette (eggs poached in a red wine sauce) and with eggs flamenca (eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce). With this type of preparation (or for an egg burrito, as Jeff suggests in his own WBW 53 post), I certainly go with red wines, and have a particular liking for Spanish wines from Bierzo or Montsant. I could also easily go with a River of Skulls or The Spaniard, Jeff’s great tempranillo-based wines. Powerful wines with a lot of texture and richness that just make the whole combo luscious and intense.
But let me take you in yet another direction – another twist in the road, so to speak. I suggest to you that one of the greatest matches you can make with eggs is a crisp, mineral white wine. At least, with “straighter” egg recipes: scrambled eggs, eggs sunny-side-up, or a basic omelet with, say, cheese and/or mushrooms and/or asparagus and/or ham. Or even just garlic, for a tortilla de ajo, like they do it in Spain.
A dry sauvignon or chenin blanc from the Loire would work very well, as would a very dry riesling from Alsace (although they’re often not quite as dry as they used to be). But my favorite suggestion would be a very dry chardonnay from, say, Chablis – or perhaps the Niagara valley. Or maybe even Slovenia.
On Monday night, my friend Frédéric Simon, with whom I import wine to Québec through Insolite Imports, opened a bottle and had me taste it blind, just before we sat down for dinner. Feels like a chablis, I spontaneously said, before finding a peculiar richness that didn’t quite fit the chablis profile, and starting to second-guess myself to death.
Rule number one of blind tasting: trust your first impressions. The wine was indeed a chardonnay, and it did fit the mineral, dry, citrusy profile of a wine produced in a relatively colder climate. It was, in fact, a Slovenian chardonnay from Movia, the renowned biodynamically-managed estate run by Ales Kristancic. (Here is a solid post from Alder Yarrow on recent releases found in the US – but not the chardonnay). Fred and his girlfriend had brought the bottle back from Slovenia, last summer: I feel privileged to have had the chance to taste it.
With its lean, clear character, but also its strong backbone and the touch of richness that wrapped around the mineral and citrus flavors, I think it would do wonders with simple egg dishes. And also with a roasted chicken or grilled salmon, if you don’t have any eggs handy. But then, who’d be twisted enough to have that for breakfast…