When it comes to day drinking, I’m all about “maintaining,” which is simple, at least in theory: The goal is to maintain a nice buzz rather than getting hammered and waking up the next day feeling like you ate a burrito filled with regret (spoiler: YA PROBABLY DID). But maintaining is not as easy in practice, especially when you’re drinking 14 percent ABV wines in the sweaty backyard happy hours of late summer. This is where piquette comes in.
Piquette is basically White Claw for wine lovers: low ABV, high drinkability. It’s made by adding water to grape pomace—the solids left over after grapes are pressed for wine—and fermenting it into a deliciously sparkling bev that clocks in between 5 and 9 percent. While piquette’s flavors vary depending on the grape variety, it always tickles your nose with fresh fruit and pricks your palate with salty effervescence that begs for a second round. It goes down as quick as your favorite flavor of La Croix but with the bright acid and soft tannin textures of your favorite pétillant-naturel.
Also piquette is much more than a fad. Spiked seltzer is a fad; ancient Romans were not messing with spiked seltzer, but they did mess with piquette. It has been made for centuries across the globe as a way to use grape pomace that would otherwise be thrown out. It’s less wasteful than chucking the stuff and it gives winemakers another source of revenue.
But as I was saying, piquette is [chef’s kiss] perfect for maintaining. You may beat your friends at bocce while throwing back two cups of chilled Merlot, but you’re probably not making it to dinner. Piquette is different. It won’t leave you with a burrito-size hangover…or any other regrets.
3 Bottles We Love:
The standard-setter from New York’s Hudson Valley: Wild Arc Farm Traminette, $15 (pictured above)
Gamay fans will love these prickly bubbles from Beaujolais: Domaine des Grottes, $21
You know it’s from California thanks to the citrus notes: Monte Rio Cellars, $22