It’s January. Quite frankly the worst month of the year. It’s cold, it’s dark, we’re all broke, we’re bombarded with Dry January, health and fitness regimes and once again, concerns over Covid. This all sounds very depressing, but it doesn’t have to be. Team Swig firmly believe in moderation being the key to a good life (with perhaps the occasional indulgence!). A little of most things is absolutely fine, move a little more, eat a little less and drink Piquette!
What is Piquette I hear you ask? Well, this historical drink has been making a come back in the natural wine world and is set to become more popular as more drinkers find out about its charms. Essentially, it is a lightly sparkling, low alcohol drink made by mixing water with the left-over skins of grapes after pressing, otherwise known as pomace. Usually this would go to compost or distillation but by rehydrating with water the left-over yeasts, the remaining colour and flavour in the skins gets a new lease of life and creates a fun, refreshing, spritzy drink at around an ABV of 5-7%.
It was the drink of choice for harvest lunches, paysan vignerons and farm labourers back in the day. Afterall, it was a drink produced by re-purposing a waste product, so was practically free of charge and its low alcohol content meant drinkers could enjoy a refreshing drink and still put in a full day’s work without needing a snooze or risking being drunk on the job.
Unfortunately for winemakers in the EU who’d like to use their pomace to make Piquette, this practice is illegal and in a number of regions, your pomace is property of the local co-op for production of fortified wines. It seems a shame and rather archaic but the idea behind the ban is to stop an oversupply of cheap wine like products in the market. Fortunately for us, it's permitted in South Africa, and the wonderful Restless River in Hemel-en-Aarde have produced one for the first time in 2021, landing in our cellars in time for ‘Moderation January’ (that’s what I’m calling it now). It might not make you smile quite as much as a bottle of Wiston Blanc de Blancs or Collard-Picard Cuvee Prestige but it will make your bank account and liver smile and bring some joy in the dark days of January.
Check out their piquette by clicking here.
*photo credit Malu Lambert