picking piquette at the austin winery

I signed up for Bon Appétit after picking up an issue somewheres and appreciating their more youthful, hipper approach to the culinary world (as opposed to Food & Wine, who seem focused on stodgy, Lincoln-driving millionaires). I paid for a subscription a few weeks before the bonhomie hit the fan at Bon Appétit on racial issues. They may be youthful, but they may not be so woke. Here’s to hoping they (and their corporate owner, Condé Nast) figure it out.

The issue I picked up somewheres had an article about piquette, calling it White Claw for wine lovers (which is not exactly appetizing, but perhaps the youngsters like White Claw). Piquette is not technically wine, but it sources from fermented grape pomace (leftover skin and grape guts) giving it bubbles, a hint of wineyness, and a decent but less-than-winey hit of alcohol. Vineyard employees back in the day who couldn’t afford the main product would make this on the side. Piquette is also considered natural as well as ancestral having been made for hundreds if not thousands of years.

A wee bit later, I saw an article in Austin Monthly about piquette, which re-piquetted our interest, We searched high and low for piquette at the usual liquor and wine stores and sadly came up with empty glasses. The bride finally found some at The Austin Winery, which was perfect since it was local. We ordered and picked it up in South Austin in the St. Elmo district which, if you are interested, is worth a stroll around to gawk at murals and whatnot (photos below).

The Austin Winery’s piquette is simply called Piquette, and they make it in the traditional way. For their version, they take the skins and guts of tempranillo and montepulciano grapes and add water and apple juice from Austin’s Fairweather Cider Co. (the latter adds a little sugar for fermentation and is commemorated on the can as “cider”). The resulting product is a stunning ruby red with 4% alcohol content and a slight kombucha flavor. For you wineheads, the Austin Winery describes their piquette as having tart berry notes, medium bubbles, and a mildly tannic finish. Piquette is unfiltered, so there may be sediment at the bottom of the cans that the winery packages it in.

While not life changing, piquette is intriguing (and good). It’s a great summer drink in that is served fridge-cold, has low alcohol, and is lo-brow where no-one will quietly judge you for putting ice cubes in it. Flavorwise, it resides in what I would call the good-but-not-too-good category where it’s not so good that you can’t help but drink-it, drink-it, drink-it until it’s gone. This is a gorgeous summer sipper for riding a mild afternoon buzz at the pool.

The Austin Winery sells their Piquette at $18 for a four pack with 20% off if you order it for pick-up or to-go. This urban winery (buys grapes, makes wines) also produces and sells wines with about a third of its production dedicated to ancestral or natural wine-making techniques (they also sell a canned rosé). They are non-traditional and adventurous, hence they are the only piquette-slingers in town. I, for one, enjoy the history and primitiveness of ancestral wine-making techniques and flavors. Here’s to hoping more vineyards join this recycling trend!

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