I remember when rose used to be a hard sell in Ontario. It took years before people started drinking it in the summer.
Now people adopt new approaches to wine as fast as they can. In the last few years I’ve seen cremants, orange wines and pet nats all become hugely successful. (Though you wouldn’t know it at the LCBO). The latest thing to catch my fancy are piquettes. This write up of them in Toronto Life describes them better than I can. As they say, piquette is a …
…low-alcohol wine is made by fermenting the pomace—leftover skins and dregs of the winemaking process—and diluting it with water. What results is a wine lover’s answer to summer-y spiked seltzers. It’s zippy, sessionable, slightly bubbly and certainly affordable—you’ll be hard-pressed to find a bottle over $20. Traditionally, piquette was reserved for farmhands and winemakers to sip while working the fields, when wine may have been easier to come by than clean drinking water. And it’s low enough in alcohol (typically, 5-9 per cent ABV) to not impact productivity. “Vineyard work is very tough, physical work, and your body gets sore and full of aches and pains,” says Mike Traynor, of Prince Edward County’s Traynor Vineyard. “Piquette takes that edge off without putting you out.” There’s also a huge sustainability appeal to piquette. Once nothing more than compost, discarded wine skins can be a thirst-quenching source of revenue. “This actually allows me to bring down the prices on a lot of my wines because I’m getting a better yield from the grapes,” Traynor says.
A few additional thoughts:
- piquettes are fun, but the taste of them vary widely. If you get an apple cider or a glass of sauvignon blanc, you know what to expect. With piquettes, I have not found that to be the case. The taste of one brand of piquette can be very different from another. They are like pet nats in that way.
- I can see why winemakers like them: they can squeeze another product out of their harvest. Good for them.
- I can’t see piquettes reaching a large audience like pinot grigio or moscato did. They will have to compete with beer and cider, which already have a huge part of the summer beverage market. But I am a bad predictor, so who knows.
- a bottle of piquette can also be good at the end of the evening if you have a big group over for a dinner party. Try it sometime.
- I’ve had a few piquettes now and I really like the one from Leaning Post. Indeed I like much of the wine from them. Good people, great wine.
- The wine pictured above is from Leaning Post. It has a great punk rock vibe to it, which perfectly describes a piquette.