Breakfast Wine and Cocktails

By / Magazine / June 29th, 2013 / 3

Can you recommend a wine to go with breakfast?

Now, you’re a reader after my own heart: one looking to get a little liquid inspiration during the most important meal of the day. Before we get started, I’d like to avoid any knee-jerk-reaction emails by saying I’m assuming you’re talking about a relaxed weekend breakfast (hopefully in bed) and that you’re not a school bus driver interested in an inspired nip before jumping into your yellow beast and picking up the kiddies.
With that foundation firmly hardened, there are the cliché brunch partners to consider. Brunch has always had a way with wine — probably because it gets served closer to the lunch end of the morning than around the time your alarm clock comes to life.

Anyway, sparkling and rosé wines wear the alternative-meal hat like a crown. They’re fun, easy drinking and, to be blunt, casual and accommodating enough (whatever you want to say to be polite) to shine when a plate of unconventional is served.

But that’s the easy way out — and I’m never about easy.

My take on an early-morning tipple is two-pronged, taking advantage of a duo of vino styles that just happen to be turning the wine world on its ear.

Pinotage-based wines from South Africa, with hints of coffee, are so hip it hurts. In fact, there are so many of them you’d almost think that The Cape vineyards are trading in their winemakers for baristas. Smooth, sweet and smoky, with a mouth-filling blend of java, mocha and berry fruit, they make for a funky, finger-on-the-pulse-of-what’s-happening breakfast beverage.

On the white side, Moscato is exploding in nuclear proportions. Sure, it’s found its footing in cocktails (see the next question), but as a low-alcohol wine (the average is around 6 per cent) with a gummy, fresh-fruit profile, it makes so much love to a breakfast menu that it’s almost embarrassing.

Then again, the Bon Vivant still prefers a Bloody Caesar!

Any thoughts on a cool, wine-based cocktail?

Does wine really need to be cocktailized? Really? I mean, come on folks, wine is the ultimate glass of on-its-own. Why do we need to mix, match or mingle it with anything else? But you asked, so I must tell.

My favourite union of spirit and grape juice is a drink that works wonders in the spring, summer and well into the fall. Having spent a lot of time enjoying the hospitality of the Veneto region in northern Italy, I’ve found a place in my heart for the Spritz.

This mix of Aperol (a slightly bitter, low-alcohol aperitif often considered the little brother of Campari) with an equal part of the subtly effervescent Prosecco, a splash of sparkling water (keep it Italian) and a few ice cubes, with a circle of orange dropped in for good measure, is a super-refreshing sipper no matter the season.

If you love some truly out-of-the-box drinking, try a Reciojito: the delicious Franken-blend of the classic Mojito recipe with a shot of Recioto Della Valpolicella — the sweeter sister of the drier Amarone wine. It’s a fruity knockout that looks killer in the glass and will appeal to the wine lover as well as the mixed-drink aficionado.

I mentioned Moscato for breakfast. Try serving it with vodka to create a Moscatini. The sweet nature and low alcohol of the wine works brilliantly well with the neutral spirit. Just combine equal portions of each and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Call me old school; I still enjoy the classic union of a teaspoon of France’s Chambord or Cassis (or any berry-fruited liqueur you may have around the house) and a glass of whatever sparkling or white wine is available. It makes for a refreshing combination that is as easy to make as it is to drink.


Fresh, funny and down-to-earth, Peter Rockwell is the everyman's wine writer. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia he's worked in the liquor industry for over 30 years and has written about wine, spirits & beer since graduating from the School of Journalism at the University of King's College in 1986. His reviews and feature articles have been published in Tidings, Vines, Occasions, Where and on to name a few; he has been a weekly on-air wine feature columnist for both CBC-TV and Global Television and his wine column 'Liquid Assets' appeared weekly in two of Nova Scotia's daily newspapers, 'The Halifax Daily News' and 'The Cape Breton Post.' Today Peter's irreverent answer man column 'Bon Vivant' appears each month in Tidings Magazine and his weekly 'Liquid Assets' column is published across Canada in editions of the METRO newspaper. When not drinking at home, and at work, Peter travels the globe looking for something to fill his glass and put into words.

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