The puritan in me is always slightly shocked to see holidaymakers at the airport downing pints of lager at 9am, and I feel a bit the same way about brunch, unless it starts at midday. Why would anyone want to drink so early?
I guess that’s what prosecco is made for. It’s low in alcohol, it goes with sweet as well as savoury food (it has a higher level of residual sugar than other sparkling wines) and it’s almost universally popular. The only thing against the stuff is that it’s such an obvious choice. If that’s likely to bother you – and you might well say, why would it at the price? – there’s always other fizz such as cava, crémant and, of course, champagne (which, by the way, goes extraordinarily well with croissants – go on, try it).
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that brunch dishes are much more flavourful than they once were, particularly those created by my ever-inventive Guardian colleagues and which are more than likely to include spices, chilli or a punchy salsa. Dishes such as Turkish eggs with garlic, yoghurt and aleppo pepper or the ubiquitous avocado toast are more like a lunch dish than a breakfast one, anyway, and rub along quite happily with a still wine. My go-tos would include a crowd-pleasing Provence rosé such as the Roseline in today’s pick and New Zealand (or similar) styles of sauvignon blanc, which, despite the current shortages Down Under, you can still get hold of at a reasonable price. South Africa, especially, has stepped in to fill the gap: the Journey’s End Spekboom below in today’s pick is a real bargain at this introductory price.
Cocktails, too, work really well at that time of the morning, the bloody mary, of course, being the classic brunch choice. If the numbers aren’t huge, buy a bottle of my new favourite spiced tomato juice, Tongue in Peat (£4.89 for 50cl drinksupermarket.com, or direct from the website for £14.39 for 3 x 50cl bottles), which is flavoured with Islay peat. It’s just as good without vodka as it is with.
I’d love to be able to say I’ve tracked down a decent alcohol-free fizz, but it still eludes me. I was going to recommend a rather cool-looking product called Wild Idol, until I discovered it costs a staggering £35, even though it’s not subject to the same duty as champagne. Even for your mum, that’s really taking the proverbial. Fortunately there are some fancily bottled alcohol-free spirits around, such as Atopia and Sipsmith’s Freeglider, either of which would make a good-looking gift.
Five drinks for a Mother’s Day brunch
Sorso Prosecco £6.49, Morrisons, 11%. A cool-looking bottle that belies the modest price. Ideal for a crowd.
Mirabeau La Folie Sparkling Rosé £14 (or £11 on Clubcard) Tesco, £14.99 Waitrose and Majestic (on the “mix six” deal), 12.5%. You get the best of both worlds with this really classy sparkler: Provence rosé + bubbles.
Roseline Côtes de Provence Rosé 2020 £15 (or £12 on Clubcard) Tesco, 13%. Another great rosé buy, especially if you have a Clubcard; even at full price, it’s cheaper than Whispering Angel. For brunches that slide into lunch.
Journey’s End Spekboom Sauvignon Blanc 2021 £8 (on offer) Sainsbury’s, 13%. Gorgeous, ripe gooseberry and citrus flavours, and a real bargain for fans of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Could handle smoked salmon, kedgeree or Mexican food.
Atopia Citrus £23 Waitrose, 0.5%. There are so many alcohol-free “gins” now, but this, with its lovely, orangey flavour (enhanced if you serve it with a slice), is still one of my favourites. The bottle looks special, too.