Sunday brunch is a fun alternative to a
dinner party and gives us a reason to pop open a bottle of sparkling wine
before noon. Whether it is served straight out of the bottle or mixed with your
favorite fruit juices, sparkling wine is the quintessential brunch beverage.
Italian sparkling wine is called Spumante or Frizzante. Spumante is fully
sparkling, and Frizzante has slightly fewer bubbles. Here are three different
Italian sparkling wines to pair with Italian-inspired recipes to create a
memorable Sunday brunch.
Start the party off with a tray of
Smoked Salmon Crostini with Dilled Cream Cheese. These toasted bread appetizers
are topped with creamy cheese, smoky salmon, and tiny sour capers. Pair with
Prosecco from Italy's Veneto region. It is made from eponymous Prosecco grapes
and is usually off-dry. The slight sweetness in the wine will counter balance
the tart flavors of the capers, and bubbles will cut the richness of the salmon
and the cheese.
Your main course is a savory Crab Cake
Benedetti. This Italian spin on eggs Benedict substitutes doughy, salty
focaccia bread for the classic English muffin and lemon-basil cream sauce for
the hollandaise. Crab cakes are the star of the dish and a crunchy alternative
to ham. Plan to prepare the components before your guests arrive, and assemble
the Benedetti at the last minute. Partner with Italy’s most elegant sparkling
wine, Franciacorta. It is made using the méthode-champenoise technique, where
the bubbles are formed inside the bottle rather than in a tank. Like classic
French champagne, the grapes in Franciacorta are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir,
although other Pinot varieties can be included. Franciacorta is dry, and its
subtle flavors won’t overpower the delicate flavor of the crab. Furthermore,
the fine bubbles will cleanse the palate after the egg and the cream. Since
Franciacorta is produced in small quantities, a Brut Sparkling wine will
substitute nicely if you can’t find one.
A sweet ending calls for Moscato
d’Asti. Slightly less fizzy than Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti is called Frizzante
instead of Spumante. This lower pressure means that it is closed with a
standard cork instead of a wired down one, like in most sparkling or Spumante
wines. Moscato d’Asti is also lower in alcohol because the fermentation is
stopped sooner so the wine can retain its traditional sweetness. Stuffed
Mascarpone French Toast Soldiers with Warm Blackberry Syrup is a decadent
pairing with Moscato d’Asti. The filling between the bread is Italy’s
Mascarpone cheese, which is generally less tangy than American cream cheese. To
me, it tastes like super-thick, unsweetened whipped cream.
So, go on. Pair Up!
Maria Terry is a Certified Sommelier
and Wine Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.LaSommelierre.com
Smoked Salmon Crostini with Dilled
French baguette, sliced into long ovals (about 16)
oil and kosher salt
ounces smoked salmon
tsp. non-pareil capers
ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
tablespoons chopped fresh dill
and juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the cream
cheese, fresh dill, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season the mixture with salt
Drizzle olive oil on bread slices and
sprinkle with salt. Bake at 275° for 15 minutes. Cool.
Top each crostini with cream cheese
mixture, a thin slice of salmon and 3-4 capers.
Yield: 4 servings
Crab Cake Benedetti
the crab cake:
tsp. Old Bay seasoning,
tsp. lemon juice, divided
egg, lightly beaten
tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cups buttery cracker crumbs, divided
lb. fresh crabmeat
the lemon basil cream sauce:
tablespoons salted butter
fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
of 1 lemon
chicken bouillon cube
fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
garlic clove, pressed
x 4” focaccia bread, cut in half and then horizontally making (4) flat squares,
Preheat oven to 425°. Line baking sheet
with aluminum foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1
teaspoon Old Bay seasoning, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, egg, Worcestershire sauce,
and 1 cup cracker crumbs in large bowl. Gently stir in crabmeat; shape into 4
Evenly coat patties with remaining 1/2
cup cracker crumbs. Arrange on prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning once, 16
minutes or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked.
Lemon Basil Butter Sauce:
In a saucepan, heat butter over medium
temperature until melted. With a whisk, gently stir in heavy whipping cream and
bring to a low boil. Continue to stir and slowly add lemon juice until blended,
then add chicken bouillon, basil, and pressed garlic stirring until bouillon is
dissolved and sauce reaches desired consistency.
Place a slab of focaccia on each plate
and top with crab cake and then poached egg. Drizzle with sauce.
Yield: 4 servings
Mascarpone French Toast Soldiers with
Warm Blackberry Syrup
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cups cold mascarpone cheese
tablespoons blackberry liqueur
thick (1/2 to 3/4 in.) slices of day-old white bread
cup maple syrup
1/2 cups blackberries
Whisk egg, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and
1/2 tsp. vanilla together in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, stir together mascarpone,
remaining 1 tsp. vanilla and the liqueur. Spread mascarpone mixture over 4
bread slices; top with remaining slices. Remove crusts and cut in thirds making
long rectangles (soldiers).
Cook maple syrup and berries in a small
covered saucepan until berries start to break down, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove
Heat a large heavy
frying pan; swirl butter in pan. Dip soldiers in egg mixture, then cook,
turning to brown on each side until crisp, 4 to 8 minutes total. Serve soldiers
with ramekins of syrup to drizzle or dip.
Yield: 4 servings