The Low-Alcohol Drink I Can’t Get Enough Of (and No, It’s Not Spiked Seltzer)

published Aug 27, 2021
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glasses of piquette on a table
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Something tragic happened when I turned 30: I suddenly couldn’t tolerate the strong cocktail or second glass of wine I never thought twice about in my 20s. It’s a tiny sign of aging I try to ignore until the headache or fatigue gets my attention. Luckily, low-ABV drinks are having a moment (I’m looking at you, spiked seltzer), which means there are plenty of lighter, less boozy beverages.

After searching and sipping through lots of low-ABV options, I discovered that I don’t actually like spiked seltzer — but I do really like piquette. The slightly effervescent drink is a close relative of wine and is about as refreshing and interesting as low-alcohol sips get. Here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Piquette?

Piquette isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s been made for centuries as a way to use up what was left over after making wine. And while piquette looks a lot like wine, it technically isn’t because it’s not made from fermented grapes. It’s made by adding water to pomace — the term for the grape skins, seeds, and stems that are leftover from the wine-making process. This mixture is fermented, which creates a drink that’s much lower in alcohol than wine because there are less natural sugars to be turned into alcohol during this second fermentation. While wine, on average, hovers around 13 percent ABV, piquette is only 5 to 9 percent. The fermentation process also makes piquette pleasantly fizzy.

What Does Piquette Taste Like?

All piquette is dry and a bit bubbly, but because it’s made with wine scraps, just about any type of grape can be used and combined to create a unique blend. You’ll find piquette in a rainbow of colors, from white and orange to pink and red. The specific flavor notes vary, but in general piquette is bright and fruity, with varying levels of tannins from the grape skins, which help ensure each sip is clean and refreshing.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Enjoy Piquette

Piquette is best served chilled. Considering that, plus piquette’s low alcohol content and crushability, it’s made for warm-weather day drinking. Producers are well aware of this and many are packing piquette in cans to make it easy for you to cart it to the pool, beach, park, or even just your backyard. I love sipping piquette on its own, but I’ve also had a lot of fun pairing it with food. I’ve poured it as a mimosa substitute at brunch and sipped it with takeout pizza at dinner. Its dry fizz cuts through rich dishes like fried chicken or pretty much anything involving bacon, but it’s also light enough that it won’t weigh you down when you’re eating a salad.

5 Bottles of Piquette to Try

If you’re lucky enough to have a small neighborhood wine shop, start your piquette journey there. As piquette’s popularity increases, many stores are beginning to carry a handful of bottles regularly and if they don’t have it in stock they are often happy to order it for you. You can also pick up bottles and cans online at sites like Primal Wine and Rock Juice or buy directly from the producer. To get you started, here are a few of the piquettes I’ve loved.