What to drink: Three picnic-perfect piquettes

A light effervescent taste and low alcohol make piquette a fun option for day drinking

Piquette might be made from the dregs of wine pressings, but it’s a punchy, fresh and totally crushable drink in its own right. After grapes are pressed for winemaking, the skins are usually discarded. Making piquettes lets wineries re-use the pomace and get another product out of a batch of grapes. It’s also less alcoholic than wine, which is why it was traditionally given to French vineyard workers as a pick-me-up during breaks from gruelling work. Many winemaking regions make local versions: in Italy it’s known as acqua pazza and the first instances of its existence were discovered in ancient Greece and Rome.

Leftover skins are soaked in water and then fermented – the length of time can vary. Natural fermentation gives it a slight fizz – the light effervescence and low alcohol make it a fun option for day drinking if you’re not in the mood for a beer or cider.

Traynor Winery Ophelia Piquette

This Prince Edward County winery’s piquette is named after the owner’s daughter, Audrey Ophelia, who “is bubbly and always brings a smile to the room.” Traynor presses grapes very gently to yield the best juice for wines, resulting in skins that are still quite juicy. The skins then make for a superb piquette that is funky, slightly tannic and just sweet enough.

Hillier, Ontario. 750 ml. Get it at Traynor Family Vineyard (1774 Danforth, traynorvineyard.com) for $20 or in town at Marben (488 Wellington West, market.marben.ca) for $20. Ontario-wide shipping available.

Leaning Post Piquette

Leaning Post describes this piquette as a “baby-Pet-Nat meets heritage-cider meets hard-seltzer,” and it really lives up to that description. It’s yeasty, acidic and bright while being very fruit-forward with watermelon, cranberry and honeysuckle on the palate. It has a lovely soft pink colour and begs to be poured into coupe glasses for a hint of glamour.

Stoney Creek, Ontario. 750 ml. Get it at Leaning Post Wines (1491 Hamilton Regional, leaningpostwines.com) for $19 or in town at Boxcar Social Riverside (4 Boulton, boxcarsocial.ca) for $25. Ontario-wide shipping available.

Revel Cider Riesling Piquette

Revel is, of course, known for its cider but it has released a number of piquettes in recent years including muscat, maréchal foch, sauvignon blanc and seyval blanc varieties. This riesling version was macerated for nine days giving it a translucent orange colour and a bit of bite. The grippy tannins don’t overpower the palate but make for a bone-dry sipping experience.

Guelph, Ontario. 750 ml. $15. Get it at revelcider.ca.

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Comments (1)

  • Charles B April 28, 2021 12:48 PM

    “Piquette” means very low quality wine in French only used for cooking a “boeuf bourguignon” or other types of stews. So the word piquette on a product is kind of strange…

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