Who says wine doesn’t go with eggs?
Look up almost any guide to food and wine pairing, and it will tell you that eggs don’t go with wine. I’ve never really got that myself, and nor did Elizabeth David, who even wrote a book dedicated to the combination. And the problem is precisely what?
Well, it turns out that it isn’t so much the taste as the consistency: it’s held that the runniness of an egg yolk can make a wine, particularly a classic red such as bordeaux, taste metallic. So if you’re planning a brunch this weekend, what should you drink and what should you steer clear of?
A pretty failsafe bet is bubbly of some kind. For me, prosecco is too sweet. Chardonnay-based blanc de blancs (meaning white wines that come from white grapes, most commonly chardonnay) or a crémant, the generic name for French sparkling wines that don’t come from the Champagne region, tend to work best, although I like the LaCheteau Crémant de Loire made from cabernet franc that Aldi has added to its range.
“Eggs are binding, and on that account, sharp, young wines are the most suitable to serve with eggs,” pronounced André Simon in The Art of Good Living. At the risk of disagreeing with such an august authority, I’m not sure I’m with him there, with the exception of, maybe, chablis. Not muscadet or picpoul, anyway, which go much better with oysters and other shellfish. It’s much more appropriate to go for a smooth, dry, unoaked or subtly oaked white such as a chardonnay, soave or an Alsace pinot blanc, a style that works particularly well with dishes that are eggy, creamy or cheesy, such as a quiche. You can even up the oak influence with a rich, egg-based sauce along the lines of a béarnaise or hollandaise.
Once eggs are combined with something meaty – for example bacon or sausages; especially spicy sausages such as chorizo – there’s no reason not to drink a red. A fry-up is surprisingly good with a basic “house” bordeaux, while tomatobased sauces of the kind you find in shakshuka also incline me towards a hearty red.
Overall, the most useful steer is to think of the fruit flavours in the wine you’re considering drinking with your eggs. If the idea of raspberries with eggs doesn’t appeal to you (me neither), then don’t pick a young, fruity pinot noir. Gooseberries and passionfruit aren’t ideal bedfellows, either, so steer clear of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Dry or sparkling is the way to go.