Sweet, sweet sediment
If bunch were to have an official alcoholic beverage, the mimosa—that classic mix of fruit juice and Champagne—would probably top of the list. The logic in enlisting mimosas for one's morning drinking is readily apparent: Orange juice is already a breakfast staple; why not add a bit of alcohol? And whereas starting the day with screwdrivers would probably put you back in bed sooner than you’d like, Champagne is lower in ABV, delightfully effervescent and, most importantly, classy as hell. But the mimosa has its problems. First, to save money (and avoid wasting good Champagne), mimosas are usually made with cheap bubbly. So much for being classy! You could simply drink straight Champagne to toast the start of your day, but unless you’re The Notorious B.I.G., drinking Champagne isn’t something you want to do just because you’re thirs-tay. It can be gratingly intense in flavor and carbonation—a bit much when your eyes are still blurry.
Thankfully, a great mimosa alternative is starting gaining traction in the wine scene, and it answers this conundrum of flavor, price, and classiness (thankfully!) with just two words: Col Fondo, commonly in the form of Prosecco Col Fondo, though other white Col Fondo varieties exist.
Col Fondo isn’t a new style of Prosecco. It’s actually a very traditional way of making sparkling wine dating back generations. “Col Fondo” in Italian means “with the bottom” or, less poetically, “with sediment.” This means you can see the yeast in the wine, a natural byproduct of letting the wine finish fermentation and carbonate in the bottle. In typical Proseccos, the yeast is removed before bottling. The inclusion of this sediment (or as classy wine people call it, the lees) results in a wine that is unusually, even a little off-puttingly, cloudy. But this natural technique can also unleash and amplify Prosecco’s savory and acidic side. Notes often include green apple, stone fruit, lemon, grapefruit, and other citrus—flavors that can land in a mimosa’s wheelhouse.
The result is a wine that can be a great start to your day: complex and engaging with a bit more mouthfeel thanks to the yeast, but also bright and quaffable with carbonation that tends to be lighter on the palate. Though Col Fondo wines can be a bit tricky to find, they still sell at a Prosecco price point as opposed to that of upmarket Champagnes. And speaking of Champagne, drinking Col Fondo comes with the added bonus of being able to unleash your inner wine snob during brunch as you explain how Champagne has lost its cachet to resurrected traditional styles like Col Fondo.
Of course, if you must resort to the old standbys, Col Fondo wines can also make for an excellent mimosa, presenting enough character to actually shine through your fruit juice instead of simply sitting idly by providing a bit of bubbles and alcohol. If you try a Col Fondo and don’t fall in love with its unique qualities, know that you’re still a touch of OJ away from a great morning drink.