It’s summer and that means it’s time to discover Piquette. Those of you who’ve had Piquette are thinking “Yes, I need to get some of that for the summer BBQs and lazy days by the water.” For those of you wondering what the heck Piquette (pronounced pi-ket) is, read on.
Piquette is a word used to describe a beverage made by adding water to the pomace (the bits left over) after the first press of grapes.
Once you’ve tasted it, we believe you are going to love it. It’s like a wine spritzer, but better, because the spritz/fizziness occurs naturally.
A Little History
While it may be new to you, Piquette has been around for centuries. It was served to the farmhands in France after they spent their days in the vineyards harvesting the grapes.
Long before that, it was made for the lower classes in Greece and Italy. They called it vinum operarium or workers’ wine.
The process is quite simple. The grape skins left over from the first press are rehydrated with water and then left alone to ferment. There’s hardly any sugar left in this concoction so some winemakers will add in first crush liquid, fruit juice, wine, honey, or sugar to help it along. Some may use some raw juice from the wine press because of its sweetness. When fermentation is complete, you have a tart and tasty, low-alcohol sparkling beverage.
One great benefit of Piquette is that it is one of the most sustainable beverages available. It can also be flavoured with local fruit that didn’t quite make it to the grocery store or fruit stand.
It’s also a great way for winemakers to experiment with flavour as the main ingredients are something most people throw away or compost.
Research shows that the first commercial North American Piquette was introduced to the market in 2016. So don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of this tasty treat.
Most Piquettes today have an alcohol content of four to nine percent, close to the alcohol content of Canadian beer. It’s mostly made with wild yeast for spontaneous fermentation. Sulphur is rarely added.
What Does It Taste Like?
The taste depends on the types of pomace used. A Merlot pomace will produce something quite different tasting than a Viognier pomace. Some flavours are lighter than wine, leaning towards sparkling wine flavours; however, some may have a sour candy flavour to them. The ones we tried in the Okanagan leaned towards sparkling wine with a refreshing tang.
If you did a comparison, you could say Piquette is wine-adjacent, somewhere between your favourite wine and sour beer. It’s understandable why some people say it’s a wine for beer lovers as it has a certain something reminiscent of a good craft beer.
Some people think it tastes bright and refreshing while others find it earthy and spicey. Prominent flavours can range anywhere from peach to pomegranate, rhubarb, or tart apple.
Like any beverage made with grapes, you’ll need to taste a few to find out which ones you enjoy, and which ones aren’t quite right for you.
What Do I Pair It With?
The beauty of Piquette is that it is quite low on the alcohol-by-volume scale and quite high on the tartness level. It goes great with pretty much anything you pack for a picnic or put together for a backyard BBQ.
Think fish tacos, charcuterie boards and even Indian food. Seafood is always a winner with this light beverage as are salads, veggie trays and pretty much any appetizer.
Drink it with lunch or dinner or on its own. Many people agree the best thing to pair with Piquette is a lazy summer day.
Where Can I Get Some?
You have several choices when it comes to picking up some delicious BC Piquette. We’ve complied a list of wineries that make and offer their version of Piquette. There may be more, so ask at your next winery visit if they have any Piquette. Some wineries that make Piquette don’t have tastings available, but you can find their Piquette at your local liquor store. Call ahead and see what’s in store for you when you arrive.
Bartier Brothers in Oliver (bartierbros.com)
Birch Block in Kaleden (birchblockvineyard.com)
Terravista Vineyards, Naramata Bench, Penticton (terravistavineyards.com)
Bella Wines in Naramata (bellawines.ca)
Averill Creek in Naramata (averillcreek.ca)
Dirty Laundry in Summerland (dirtylaundry.ca)
Kitsch Wines in Kelowna (kitschwines.ca)
Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna (tantalus.ca)
Red Bird in Creston (redbirdwine.com)
A Sunday in August on Salt Spring Island (asundayinaugust.com)
Piquette sells out rather quickly, so if you find one you like, get it! It’s available in bottles and cans for your drinking enjoyment.