“They invented brunch so we could have wine for breakfast.”
“Having wine for breakfast doesn’t mean I’m an alcoholic, it means I’m festive.”
“I could be a morning person if my coffee maker brewed wine.”
All these memes online about drinking wine for breakfast make it sound like there’s some rule-breaking involved in the act. Like it’s a naughty, maybe even outrageous, sneaky thing to do—when in fact to have a glass of wine with your morning meal has long been a practice in Italy, France and Spain. This culture of enjoying a little alcohol on the breakfast table “evolved from the 16th century,” reports the Independent, “when beer was cleaner than water and it wasn’t unusual for workers to start off their day with a tipple.”
But let’s be clear about the point of this article first: We don’t recommend you consume alcohol if you’re going to drive. In fact, please don’t drink wine if you know you’re going to be driving. Now if you’re just staying home and taking things easy, or will be spending a leisurely weekend morning at a restaurant with friends, adding wine to the equation might be something you would like to consider.
In the Philippines, the practice of having wine with breakfast or brunch is understandably out of the ordinary. “Here, we’re coffee drinkers,” says Gioseppe Angelo Racelis, a food and beverage expert at the De La Salle College of St. Benilde. “In the morning, when we’re stressed, sometimes before we go to bed, magkakape pa. That’s who we are. We are coffee producers. Europeans are wine producers. So they have wine in the morning, at brunch, before sleep, when they’re stressed.”
You’ve read about the benefits of wine when consumed in moderation: Wine is loaded with antioxidants which protect our bodies from the elements. Red wine, in moderate doses, is said to help lower bad cholesterol and is good for your heart. But as for the more immediate effects, says Gio: “Wine cools us down and because we’re a tropical country, bagay siya sa atin.”
In short, while coffee is great for rousing us for a busy day, wine allows us to savor a day’s beginning. It’s soothing and therefore good for our mental health.
Gio also doesn’t recommend drinking wine if you’re going to drive, by the way. It must be clear that you have a different agenda when you start your day with wine vis a vis starting your day with coffee. Starting your day with wine means you’ll be spending an unhurried day at home. “When you drink coffee, you’re usually nagmamadali, you eat and run, you order takeout,” adds Gio. “When people drink wine, they usually start with brunch, yung kalmado ka na, hindi ka na nagmamadali eh. You have your own time when you drink wine, you just wanna chill, appreciate what’s happening around, that type of lifestyle.”
For many Pinoys, breakfast is king and breakfast buffets are our indulgence— our leisurely approach to breakfast buffets is a perfect opportunity to introduce wine to. The salty nature of Filipino breakfast staples—tapa, dried fish, longganisa, corned beef—are also suited for wine pairing. “Mas lumalabas yung flavors [ng food], nababalanse ng acidity and tannins ng wines,” offers Gio who recommends light bodied to medium bodied wines like a Pinot noir, a Merlot or a Tempranillo, when enjoying our salty agahan favorites.
When one is just having toast or some Filipino bread like pandesal with kesong puti, or a warm kababayan even, a dry, crisp sparkling wine will be a suitable companion, a rosé, a Cava, or Prosecco. But they should be dry, Gio advises. “Pag dry yung wine mo mas naghahanap ng flavors, ng sensations yung palette mo so you tend to eat more. Nice to eat a lot at breakfast, di ba?” Personally, Gio’s favorite brunch wine is a dry Prosecco.
According to Gio, who’s been working in the local beverage industry for the past 12 years, there’s still not a lot of Filipinos who drink wine despite its oft-repeated health benefits, and the many varieties available in the country. He believes wine can still be a more popular drink in these shores. “I really want Filipinos to enjoy drinking wine, he says. “I feel we have the advantage, because when it comes to food we’re into exploring.” He cites the fact that we got into cocktails quite fast, and jumped into the crafty gins and soju bandwagons easily. “It’s just a matter of how to inform them on how to enjoy drinking [wine],” Gio says.
This is why he also thinks wine-with-breakfast or brunch is a concept that may also catch on with Pinoys over time. “It’s a very nice culture,” he says. “It’s a way for us to calm down. Because you have a very long week na puro work. You have your weekend, so relax, do a wine pairing with your breakfast. Appreciate everything. Appreciate the flavors with your food.”
We asked foodie JC Cailles Lo, co-founder of the popular JC Wines, to give us recommendations on specific bottles that will go best with a morning meal—based on the suggested kinds of wine that Gio suggested. Here are his choices:
1. Dry Prosecco and Cava. Best with anything oily and rich like bacon.
Masottina Prosecco Brut. High quality, reasonably priced Italian bubbly. Rated 96 out of 100 by Decanter Magazine. Also good to try Masottina Rose.
Masottina Brut – 850 SRP
Masottina Rose- 910 SRP
Why not pick a Chandon Garden Spritz instead of Cava? Also a bubbly, this is perfect for brunch as a refreshing cocktail since it has real orange extracts with no added sugar.
Another good option is Chandon Delice. A refreshing semi-sweet sparkling wine and you can be playful and creative when you serve it. Add ice and a favorite garnish like mint leaves or cucumber.
Chandon Garden Spritz – 950 SRP
Chandon Delice - 905 SRP
2. Rosé. Very versatile. Goes well with salad, sandwiches, rice meals etc.
Colombelle Rose. Offers best value for money. Very popular wine in the top brunch places in Metro Manila. Can bring that same restaurant experience at home when you open this bottle.
Whispering Angel —said to be the World’s Most Popular rosé. This is from Provence which holds the worldwide benchmark in rosé wine making. Favorite of a lot of Hollywood A-listers like Adele.
Colombelle Rose – 645 SRP
Whispering Angel - 1440 SRP
3. Light to medium wines. Best with meat dishes that are not too rich and heavy like longganisa or hotdog or even adobo.
Bread and Butter Pinot Noir. It’s a super popular red wine from California. People hoard this bottle! Light, fruity, with hints of vanilla. Very nice positioning and branding too. Like its tagline says, “Don’t Overthink It!”
Meanwhile, the Santoro Sangiovese is also popular and can be found in most Italian restaurants in the Philippines. Best paired with Italian dishes like pasta or pizza or anything tomato-based like omelet with tomatoes.
Bread and Butter Pinot Noir - 1550 SRP
Santoro Sangiovese – 715 SRP
4. Medium to Bold Wines. Best paired with heavier meats like Beef Tapa, Pares, Bistek. Anything red meat.
Matsu Picaro from Toro Region, Spain. Grape is Tinta de Toro but essentially also a Tempranillo. Has earned a cult following. A red wine drinker’s choice.
Alternative will be Altos De Tamaron Roble Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero Region. Watch out for notes of blueberries and vanilla.
Matsu Picaro - 905 SRP
Altos De Tamaron Roble - 870 SRP
Distinction Bordeaux. Made with Merlot grapes. Very special bottle that is a real collector’s item. Only 3,100 bottles produced worldwide and each bottle is individually numbered.
Ramsay Merlot - Another very limited bottle from California.
Distinction Bordeaux - 1750 SRP
Ramsay Merlot - 1450 SRP
5. Instead of a Pinot Grigio, I recommend these bottles with similar flavor profile:
Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc - South African White Wine that has notes of Apple Pie and Lime.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling - A wine specifically made for Chinese dishes. If you are having dimsum for breakfast, this is the perfect bottle!
Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc - 750 SRP
Kung Fu Girl Riesling - 930 SRP