Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Springtime Brunch Wine?

Before your brain goes straight to bubbly, check out these recommendations by nine wine pros from Restaurant Award winners for wines to pair with the beloved midday meal

Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Springtime Brunch Wine?
The expert wine picks below include a few selections you might not expect to see on a brunch table, including some reds. (Jupiterimages)
May 5, 2021

If the only beverages that come to mind when you think brunch are Bloody Marys and bubbly, it may be time to branch out. Take some tips from these nine sommeliers at Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners, who suggest their ideal wines specifically for springtime. Their picks include matches for brunch favorites that can be tricky pairings (hello, avocado toast), whites, reds, international sparklers and for fans of the classics, a few superior Champagnes.

Wine Spectator: What wine would you recommend for a springtime brunch?

Mark Cartland, wine director at Island Vintage Wine Bar in Honolulu, Hawaii

I can think of no better wine for a springtime brunch than a Patrick Bottex Bugey-Cerdon ‘La Cueille’ sparkling rosé. It’s a Méthode Ancestrale wine made from 90 percent Gamay and 10 percent Poulsard, a grape native to this alpine region of France [in the Jura]. It’s lightly sparkling, perfectly sweet and only has 8 percent alcohol, making it a daytime-drinker’s dream. Even the iridescent pink hue is beguiling. This wine is springtime in a glass!

Shanning Newell, head sommelier at Bourbon Steak in Nashville

I would reach for a light, refreshing white like Grüner Veltliner that has subtle green aromas, which is the perfect rare pairing for my favorite springtime brunch dish, avocado toast! I also love the lesser-known Txakolina from the Basque region of Spain. They’re incredibly affordable and are marked by lightning-high acidity and a salty minerality that pair amazingly well with raw oysters and lobster rolls.

Kuan Lim, wine director at Lucky Palace in Bossier City, La.

For springtime brunch I love Champagne, but I also like a delicate, floral and brightly acidic rosé, such as Pinot Noir rosé from Marsannay or Oregon (Bruno Clair or Raptor Ridge), Mourvedre rosé from France’s Bandol (Domaine Tempier) or Ameztoi Rubentis Hondarrabi rosé from Spain’s Txakolina.

Natalie Tapken, beverage director at Bluepoint Hospitality Group in Easton, Md.

For a springtime brunch, right now I’m really loving Sylvain Pataille’s Aligoté [from Burgundy], but I think Aligoté in general is just a great brunch wine that you don’t often seek out.

And Muscadet is always such a good brunch wine too. Muscadet and scrambled eggs is such a good combination. It’s so good for springtime when it’s starting to get hot outside and you’re going to have things like asparagus, peas, all of those green vegetables—which can be difficult to pair with. Aligoté and Muscadet seem to work with those really well.

Christian Shaum, beverage director for B. Hospitality Co. in Chicago

Springtime brunch has an obvious choice of Champagne, however, sometimes not everyone is feeling bubbles. I would go for a high-quality crowd pleaser like François Pinon Vouvray 2016, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in north-central France. The wine is full of pleasing fruit flavors (applesauce, white peach, lemon curd) and just a bit of sugar that’s balanced by refreshing acidity. It’s a wine that will actually go well with an American breakfast covered in hot sauce.

Jessica Altieri, director of beverage for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Palm Beach, Fla.

Brunch in my hometown of Chicago calls for many different types of cuisine, from steak to Italian and seafood. Start with a bright, yet elegant brut rosé to kick off the meal. The Lunelli family never disappoints with their Ferrari wines. Next up, I’d recommend a crisp white to go with that seafood bar. The Assyrtiko from Domaine Sigalas out of Santorini has been my go-to seafood pairing ever since I visited Greece and met with the OG of winemaking there, Paris Sigalas.

An Austrian Grüner Veltliner from Fritz Wieninger will be a crowd pleaser as well with many different types of food. Pick up his Gemischter Satz, which is a traditional white Austrian field blend of 13 varieties, if you’re really feeling adventurous. And if we are going big, then I’m grabbing a bottle from my Sassicaia collection….

Jason Irving, wine director at Topper’s at the Wauwinet in Nantucket, Mass.

I always recommend bubbles and rosés for brunch since they are so versatile and refreshing for an afternoon kick. Lovely with oysters, omelets, baked goodies and bacon! Château Gassier’s Côtes de Provence Esprit Rosé 2019 is a clean, fresh, mineral-driven beauty. Champagne François Seconde Brut Grand Cru NV is a grand cru Champagne that doesn't break the bank and has all the fresh, bubbly quality.

Eric Perejda, sommelier at Beano's Cabin in Beaver Creek, Colo.

Personally, for an early-day glass of wine, I prefer sipping the wonderful wines from Alsace. Domaine Weinbach, Marcel Deiss and Trimbach are three of my favorite producers. Dry Riesling, balanced Gewürztraminer and textured Pinot Gris are fun to drink out of the noticeably elegant tall bottles. They will pair well with oysters and raw bar, but are also friendly with pastry, cured salmon and baked ham.

For lower ABV wines, a well-made Italian Moscato d’Asti like Elio Perrone Moscato d'Asti Sourgal comes in at around 5 percent ABV. [Stefano Perrone] strikes an incredible balance of aromatics and freshness, with softer bubbles than Champagne. His wines are definitely a step up from some of the known sweeter versions in the category. If red wine drinkers are in attendance, it might be best to stick with wines that have softer tannins, like many Pinot Noirs, Gamay and Austrian Zweigelt blends.

Troy Revell, head sommelier at Herons in Cary, N.C.

Gusbourne from England makes Champagne-method wines, and their blanc de blancs has a crisp and clear mineral streak that will make you happy you skipped the orange juice.

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