Wine and Vine…To Piquette, or not to piquette?

by Justin Taylor

The most humble of beginnings and modesty above all else, the wine style of Old World wonder is just barely making its way into the U.S. wine market.  And it is largely an acquired taste for any who wander into its waters.  Piquette, a name indicative to the slight effervescence in the wine, was traditionally made and consumed by the vineyard workers of Europe.  Being a hardworking, tireless farm hand meant you had little money to buy wines from an estate, but you certainly had access to the leftovers from the grape press.

Enter creativity and a desire to have a little something to sip after a long day’s work.  The pomace of white or red grapes that are directly pressed still contain small amounts of sugar in the pulp and skin.  Once you rehydrate this pressed material with water, and conduct a fermentation on these trace amounts of sugar, you have a lively, funky, and low alcohol cousin to wine.  Ideally consumed so close to production, it has rarely been bottled or cellared for sale.  In today’s wine market, it is making some very trendy waves among those interested.

So making the base wine is very simple, and microbiologically complex.  Then the drained and pressed beverage usually enters its final steps of production with a small addition of sugar before bottling to help create the bubbly desired in the glass.  Now high pH fermentations are highly prone to bacteria also contributing to their essence, so these wines finish tart and with wild aromas far from your typical glass of Chardonnay.  If you consider yourself adventurous with your cuisine, you must try this old turned new beverage.

The answer to last issue’s trivia: All described above, and locally available at Plēb Urban Winery.  The Wine and Vine trivia for the next issue:  What grape goes by the synonym Favorita?

Justin Taylor is Winemaker at Parker-Binns Winery, Mill Spring, NC.

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