I am sitting this morning in York, England, having breakfast at the Hotel du Vin. It's a nice, reasonably priced hotel chain in the old country. A friend of mine, Robin Hudson, started the group and sold it a few years back for a small fortune, and the Hotel du Vin is as nice as ever. I am in Old York (people always think I am saying New York, which is an altogether different place) to visit my 11-year-old daughter, Isabel, who lives there with her mother.
I am having a "simple continental breakfast" of coffee, milk, orange juice, brown toast and butter, and different jams. Plus, there is a whole table full of different cereals, fruits and pastries. I could have had a cooked breakfast that could have been anything from French toast to the Hotel du Vin Full English that includes pork sausage, cured back bacon, black pudding, grilled tomato, mushroom and eggs. I couldn't face all that cooked stuff this morning—too heavy!
But I was wondering where the Hotel du Vin kept its wine for breakfast. There was none in sight. I asked my waiter if they also supplied wine at breakfast. "Occasionally sir," he said. "People often have a glass of Champagne. Would you like one?"
I thought for a moment, but declined. It's a shame that it never became appropriate to have wine at breakfast in most parts of the world. Breakfast is slowly becoming my favorite meal of the day after all these years, especially when you are traveling. Some of the most memorable meals of my life have been breakfast in bed somewhere in the world; yet wine, which is an important part of my life, as you know, has seldom been part of that.
I remember being in parts of Paris at 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. in a bar having a café latte after all-nighters in nightclubs, or other nocturnal destinations, and old timers would be leaning up to the zinc bar and ordering a "balloon." It was a simple round wine glass of cheap and hearty red. Some had an Armagnac or Cognac.
Or I remember being offered fresh Beaujolais in the Mâcon during a huge Sunday breakfast in an inn in the rolling hillside vineyards of the area. I didn't drink any, but it seemed appropriate, perhaps necessary.
And my favorite venue in Bordeaux, Les Sources de Caudalie, always offers its owners' Smith-Haut-Lafitte red and white at breakfast along with its buffet breakfast. I admit that I have never had a glass, since I normally have 30 to 50 wines to taste after breakfast.
I admit that I have had my fill of Champagne brunches in my life, but it seems okay that late in the morning to have a glass of wine. And it's really replacing lunch with breakfast, so it seems normal, even a necessity.
But think of all the great bottles I have missed over breakfast in my life. Just this morning, I could have consumed a posh, opulent Pomerol with my full English breakfast, or a creamy, decadent Montrachet with my grilled kippers, lemon and parsley. Or how about a sweet and mouthcoating glass of d'Yquem with the French toast?
I am really mad at myself. I could have increased my life's list of wines tasted by one third, if I had had the courage to be different and put my nose to the glass at "breaky." Alas, I am just drinking my pot of coffee and glass of orange juice, like everyone else this morning.
Tom Benson — Bellevue, WA — November 19, 2009 11:44am ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — November 19, 2009 11:53am ET
Dean E Medeiros — Dana Point, CA, USA — November 19, 2009 1:24pm ET
Ann Suchta — Wimington, Delaware — November 19, 2009 1:28pm ET
Michael Bonanno — CT — November 19, 2009 3:09pm ET
Costa, Renato Martins — Sao Paulo/Brazil — November 19, 2009 3:11pm ET
James Suckling — — November 19, 2009 4:12pm ET
Michael Kedersha — Ridgewood,NJ — November 19, 2009 4:14pm ET
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — November 19, 2009 4:24pm ET
Mike Diercksmeier — chicago — November 19, 2009 9:35pm ET
Lynn Alley — Carlsbad — November 20, 2009 4:08pm ET
Jennifer Knowles — surprise, az. usa — November 20, 2009 7:06pm ET
Kevin Smith — Sunshine State — November 21, 2009 2:40am ET
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