The Nation’s 10 Best Wine Brunches

The Nation’s 10 Best Wine Brunches

In cities across the United States, finding the latest, greatest boozy brunch not only earns serious bragging rights, it’s practically considered a competitive sport. But since everybody’s working for the weekend—and because you’ve earned some Champagne-fueled rest and relaxation—why not allow Wine Enthusiast to make over your end-of-week brunching agenda?                                 

Sit back and prepare to get your sip on: We’ve sourced the nation’s top 10 brunch spots that score points with wine lovers (tough job, we know). From wine-cocktail themed drag queens that get the brunch party started in New Orleans to a three-course wine-and-food pairing menu with stellar views of Central Park, we present the nation’s top spots to dig in and drink up this weekend.

1. DIY Wine Cocktails at Sotto 13, New York City

It may be a faux pas to play with your food, but at this chic West Village Italian restaurant, playing with drinks is downright encouraged. The DIY Prosecco Bar during Sotto 13’s “Social Brunch” caters to would-be mixologists: A $15 Prosecco tray (pictured) includes on-trend mixables like Aperol and Figenza (a fig-infused vodka), fresh fruits like berries and pomegranate seeds and unique garnishes such as crystalized ginger to inspire diners to create their own drinks (the purchase of a bottle of Prosecco is additional, but options range from $35–95 a bottle, though Prosecco is included in the Boozy Tapas Brunch). As for food, brunch dishes are served tapas style—furthering the sociable experience—and include brioche French toast sticks, wood-fired pizzas and Tuscan eggs. 

2. Comfort Food Classics and “Manmosas” at Max’s Wine Dive, Houston

This Houston wine-shop-meets-dive-bar hybrid is the first of four wine dives in Texas, well known for serving up a selection of stick-to-your-ribs dishes alongside affordable wines (the restaurant even offers bottles to go) in a casual environment complete with a jukebox.

During brunch, served Friday and Saturday (10 am–3 pm) and Sunday (9 am–3 pm), diners dig in to Southern treats like Jake Cakes and Wings, fried chicken wings set on top of cornbread griddle cakes smothered in maple syrup, or The RVP, a stack of rich red velvet pancakes topped with lemon cream cheese frosting, and wash it all down with one of 30 wines available by the glass. (Despite the range of approachable wines, it seems a shame to miss out trying the Manmosa, a mix of Belgian beer and grapefruit juice.) 

3. Drag Brunch at The Country Club, New Orleans

Imbibers would be hard pressed to find a livelier brunch in New Orleans: Drag Brunch, held the third Sunday of every month, stars the effervescent Mimosa Girls (MonaLot Fontaine, Coca Mesa and Sheeya Mann) along with some of the city’s finest down-home cooking, like buttermilk-battered fried chicken and waffles or shrimp and Andouille sausage served with stone-ground grits. While the girls entertain, customers enjoy truly bottomless mimosas for $10 (brunches often last more than 2 hours), or opt for stellar hand-crafted bloody marys, Marias and Ruddy Marys (made with gin).              

Though the bloody mary recipe is a club secret, “wink at a bartender and he may tell you what’s in it,” says Albert McComas, general manager. After this boozy, boisterous brunch, many customers find themselves needing a nap: Luckily, diners are invited to recline by the salt water pool out back.

4. Italian Wine and Dine at Pastaria, Clayton, Missouri

Midwest culinary hero Gerard Craft is behind the Italian-inspired menu at this brunch must try near St. Louis, utilizing the kitchen’s massive wood-burning oven for dishes like the breakfast cake, with berries, pork belly and maple syrup, served with a classic Bellini. Other brunch items to munch on include house-made doughnuts and a breakfast pizza with tomato, bacon, Fontina cheese, egg and garlic. In addition to modern takes on classic Italian cocktails, like the Bravissimo (made with Zucca Amaro, Cocchi Americano Blanco Aperitivo and soda), Pastaria offers 14 (mostly Italian) wines available by the glass during brunch along with adult Italian sodas designed for grown-up palates: They’re made with bartender-favorite Fever Tree tonic. 



5. Swanky Seafood Brunch at Paris Club Restaurant, Chicago

Since one of Chicago’s sister cities is Paris, it seems only fitting to find a glamorous City of Lights-inspired brunch complete with 90 wine bottles on offer at this tony French brasserie on Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Boasting a posh brunch experience on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am–4 pm, diners can dig in to escargot Bourguignonne, country pâté and a black truffle grilled cheese, or opt to splurge on Le Grand Plateau ($84.95), a seafood tower stacked high with lobster, oysters, snow crab claws, shrimp and king crab—ideally suited for sharing, along with one of 13 bottles of bubbly available on the French-leaning wine list.





6. Bubbles & Brunch at Overlook Grill at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas

You don’t need to hit it big at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas to enjoy a Champagne-fueled brunch: Offered each Saturday and Sunday from 11 am–6 pm at the indoor-outdoor Overlook Grill at the modern Cosmopolitan hotel, Bubbles & Brunch is a $40 special that features one glass of Chandon Library Champagne or mimosa, along with caramel-pecan monkey bread and the choice of two small plates for the table—like toothsome pork pot stickers with green papaya salad and chili-soy dipping sauce—along with an entrée, such as blue claw crab benedict with Creole Hollandaise. 

7. Jazz Brunch at Commander’s Palace, New Orleans

The association with brunch and bubbly is exemplified at Commander’s Palace, the iconic circa-1880 restaurant in New Orleans’s mansion-filled Garden District.                                       

“We have always believed that brunch is a celebration of family, of friends, of life,” says Wine Guy Dan Davis. “Celebration calls for bubbles, whether from Champagne, Prosecco or the California coast, and bubbles pair perfectly with brunch.”

In addition to the nine bottles of bubbly on offer for under $60 at the legendary New Orleans restaurant—a Wine Enthusiast Best 100 Wine Restaurants pick three years in the running—five half-bottles of sparkling are available too, along with a wide large-format Champagne selection in case you’re serious about weekend partying. And fitting for the balloon-filled, celebratory air, Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio entertains guests on Saturdays (11:30 am–12:30 pm) and Sundays (10:30 am–1:30 pm): You can request any song, but “When the Saints Go Marching In” is de rigueur.  

8. Wine Brunch with a View: Asíate Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental, New York City

Eloise had nothing on this: Located in the stylish Mandarin Oriental hotel in Manhattan, Asíate’s upscale three-course weekend brunch ($54) includes decadent dishes like a foie gras mousse with red onion-rhubarb jam and brioche French toast with peach compote and whipped lemon-marscapone cream, but the view is pretty sweet, too. Perched on the 35th floor, guests can sip one of 26 wines offered by the glass during brunch (two featured wines are a steal at $9 a pop, or a tasting of each is also offered for $12), while taking in unparalleled views of Central Park. 




Photo by Maria Bryk9. Dim Sum Brunch at The Source, Washington, D.C.

For those craving dim sum and fine wines in the nation’s capital, The Source’s Saturday Dim Sum Brunch (offered 12 pm–3 pm) is uniquely designed for guests to customize their own tasting menus, culling from wine-friendly small plates like chive dumplings, lobster bao buns and congee with pork belly to match selections from an eclectic, international wine list 400 bottles strong, including 25 wines by the glass and two sakés. General Manager and Wine Director Rikka Johnson recommends selections such as FX Pichler’s 2011 Loibner Oberhauser Riesling and Prager’s 2011 Hinter Der Burg Federspiel Grüner Veltliner to pair with the modern Asian dishes conceived by Executive Chef Scott Drewno. 





10. Celebrity Sipping at East 12th Osteria, New York City

It’s no wonder this sleek Manhattan eatery—occupying a prime people-watching corner on East 12th Street and First Avenue, and outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows—is a hit with celebrities like Julia Stiles and Justin Long. The restaurant’s pastas, breads and gelati are made on the premises, and refreshing, authentic sgroppino cocktails, crafted with fresh green apple, cherry, lemon or watermelon sorbetti and Prosecco are whipped up to order tableside. 

In addition to delectable brunch dishes like strapazzato alle ciliegie (shredded pancakes inspired by those from the Alto Adige region of Italy with caramelized fresh cherries) and pesce di mare with polenta, an Italian take on shrimp and grits, there are 20 wines available by the glass. 

Published on August 30, 2013