Wednesday, January 14, 2009

WBW53: Wine for Breakfast

Wed 14 Jan 2009

When January's Wine Blogging Wednesday was announced at the end of last year I was really excited, as our host, El Jefe, had chosen wine for breakfast. My initial, and utterly unoriginal, thought was Champagne with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. This was scuppered because, to make life difficult, he had stipulated we had to choose a still, dry wine.

I've obviously had far too good a Christmas and New Year, because at this stage of 2009, I'm bogged down with a head cold and I'm barely interested in food let alone alcohol. The thought of wine at breakfast, or any other time, is not exciting me at all.

Rather than not participate, I hope my theoretical approach will suffice. As soon as I dry out sufficiently to drink at breakfast time I will put my hypothesis to the test.

So - let's begin by thinking about breakfast. A proper breakfast - a full English. This means bacon, sausages, black pudding (all fried, thank you very much), egg (scrambled or fried - probably fried if I've fried the meats because then you get a lovely crispy meaty base to your egg and it's less faff), fried bread and toast (buttered) and, if available, home made baked beans. I'd have mushrooms too, but Andy doesn't like them so for the sake of domestic harmony, we'll leave them off the plate. Of course, I have no picture for you ... this is all in my head and flickr failed to produce even an approximation of the breakfast I'm talking about!

Although my recipe for baked beans includes chorizo I'm not going the way of a Spanish wine. This is for two reasons: there's loads of fat on the plate, so I need something with good acidity. I want to cut through the fat and I want to match the acidity of the tomatoes in the beans. Secondly, I don't want anything too big, weighty, alcoholic or even complex. The flavours on the plate are complex enough: if the sausages are good they'll be full of herbs, if the black pudding is good it'll be spicy and laced with pepper. The beans are a dish in themselves and the presence of the egg just complicates everything.

If I were interested solely in fulfilling the second criterion I'd be tempted to go with a Beaujolais (which, interestingly, Andrew over at Spittoon paired with his bacon butty). I suspect that my plate has too much going on and that the Beaujolais could fail to work with both the beans and the black pudding.

The natural place to find acidity in a red wine is Italy. And I'm going to head for one of my favourite wines: Chianti. I was tempted to suggest Lambrusco, because in theory this should work well too but not only is it not still, I'd also have to find a good one to try at a later date and that might prove a little tricky. My theory is that a Chianti will be robust enough to stand up to the flavours on the plate but won't fight with the spice and herbs. Its acidity should both cut through the fat and complement the tomatoes.

I'm not entirely convinced that wine is a good and proper thing to have with a full English. After all, greasy spoons serve strong tea (from an urn) and strong (instant) coffee for a reason ...
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Blogger Andrew said...

You want a picture? Hows about

Poached egg for some reason not fried though.

Not sure either how the Beaujolais would work with black pudding and beans... if only I had thought of it as I have some black pudding in the fridge. Sadly I finished off the bottle that evening.

5:27 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Great shot, Andrew, but not sure about the beans in your picture! I'd never have spotted it as I searched 'full english'!

We might never know about black pudding and Beaujolais ... might have to remain a great food & wine pairing mystery ...

10:53 pm  
Blogger Nancy said...

I adore old cookbooks because they tend to have breakfast-on-steroids menus from back in the day. The Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1896) suggests, for instance, Quaker Rolled Oats with Baked Apples, Sugar, and Cream, plus Creamed Fish, plus Baked Potatoes, plus Golden Corn Cake, and finally Coffee.

I think I'd slug it all down with a drop of whisky, frankly. That goes for the full English, too.

11:13 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I think whisky might be a bit hardcore for first thing in the morning!!!!!

1:46 pm  
Blogger Joos de Littlemore said...

Sorry for late posting! When talking of a bit of booze with brekkers, the good old kipper is also highly traditional first thing in the morning, and makes a stunning accompaniment for a good pint of bitter! Oh, IMO, beans are such a new-fangled thing for breakfast; I've lived a loooong time and I cannot remember the bean appearing on the breakfast menu before about 1967 - when Heinz came out with the Beanz Meanz Heinz ad!

3:43 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Ah, but Joos, while a pint of bitter might be a good star to the day, we had to choose a still, light wine!

6:05 pm  

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