Love a natty or a wine spritzer? Pop a piquette next
Emma Gleason | March 3, 2021
Light, low in alcohol, and made from waste-optimising practices, piquette ticks every box for what we’re wanting to imbibe now. More mellow than a pét-nat, a little bit murky with a subtle fizz, a handful of recent releases suggest that winemakers and drinkers alike have rediscovered the beauty of this humble drop.
Piquette is made from pomace — the grape leftovers from winemaking — and water, which is then left to ferment, resulting in a highly drinkable, crisp, aromatic, sparkling beverage.
It’s a method with centuries of history throughout Europe, dating back to the classical period, and more recently was enjoyed by field workers at lunch. As with many old-fashioned practices, piquette feels grounded in a more sustainable way of living. The process harnesses a by-product of the wine industry, helping to minimise waste.
Its earthy flavour and dash of fizz may make it the next favourite tipple for natural wine fans, and piquette also possesses a lightness that will appeal to those of us partial to a wine spritzer.
Low in alcohol (most available in New Zealand are between five and seven per cent), piquette gives you less of a buzz, which, in our opinion, is sometimes a nice thing. Piquette also has fewer calories.
All of this makes it unsurprising that this modest, delicious drink is appealing to local winemakers.
Alex Craighead Wines launched its 330ml cans of Kindeli piquette in June 2020 (wine-in-a-can has a dear place in our hearts). “It was really interesting from an experimental point of view,” founder Alex Craighead tells Viva. “It also sits really well with me as it is adding another step and product to the lifecycle of the grape.”
Made from certified organic grapes from his biodynamic home vineyard in Nelson, Alex describes Kindeli as something of a hybrid. “We added a tiny amount of cider ferment to give it a natural spritz. Our piquette is literally naturally produced CO2, grapes and a micro-amount of apples.”
What makes piquette wine so special, according to Alex, is the reuse that’s inherent to its creation. “There is so much waste in the world at the moment, so using the same grapes for wine, piquette, then in our vineyard compost blend is awesome.”
There’s a delicious Australian piquette, called Atomic Bomb by BK Wine, worth trying, and is available at, who deliver nationwide.
Another local variety on the market is from Garage Project. I’ve been enjoying its very quaffable piquettes all summer, and reached out to co-founder Jos Ruffell to find out more about their piquette range, Little Crush , which launched late last year.
It was a fruitful idea to come out of the stasis of 2020. “During lockdown we had more time to tinker with some ideas,” Jos says. “Making piquettes was one that just made a lot of sense — and our mate Cosmo said we should make one, so we did!”
With a relatively simple process and light flavour, it provides opportunities for a wealth of creativity and experimentation. “We love that piquettes allow you to create a quite different expression from regular wine,” explains Jos. “You can build up and layer piquettes — adding in more skins from lots of different varieties you typically wouldn’t see together.”
To make them even more unique, we used a variety of grapes not typically used in wine. They give our Little Crush Piquettes bright, juicy flavours you won’t find in a glass of Sauv,” says Jos.
“They’re also striking in colour and minimise waste in the winery — everything goes to use.”
Locally, the piquette market is small — for now. “The early adopters seem to be craft brew fans and natural wine drinkers,” says Alex. However, he predicts it will grow in 2021 as New Zealanders discover the joys of this old, down-to-earth treasure. “They are a great lower- alcohol alternative to wine and low-carb alternative to beer. They work really well as a glass with a light meal or aperitif.”
Jos sees piquette becoming a charming addition to the family of natural wines on offer in Aotearoa. “They are a celebration of the harvest — best drunk fresh and not to be taken too seriously and should be at an approachable price for everyone.”
“They are fizzy, lower alcohol, refreshing and delicious — what’s not to like?”
The main types of wine include red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified and dessert wines.
Exploring new wines can help expand your palette and knowledge of drinks to pair with different dishes.
Grapes from all over the world give wines a range of flavours from fruity to oaky to dry.
Humans have produced and enjoyed wine for over 8000 years, so it stands to reason that this grape-based beverage would be easy and stress-free to enjoy, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Wine education covers a great deal of information, from grape types to geographic regions to flavour profiles. While some drinkers love to geek out to the nuances and details of this subject, others can feel a bit overwhelmed when they walk into a wine shop.
While there’s no limit to the amount of information that you can learn, a few basic guidelines will help direct your shopping experience and allow you to get your hands on a bottle that suits your tastes and preferences.
As vast as the world of wine is, most wines can be classified into five main categories: red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified and dessert wines. Below, you’ll find a rundown of these categories, with a breakdown of 28 popular variety types.
To offer some expert insight, we’ve enlisted sommelier and wine educator Caroline Conner of @winedinecaroline, who teaches online courses to wine lovers seeking to enhance their knowledge and broaden their wine-related horizons.
Why is it important to know about different types of wine?
“The best way to learn about wine is to approach it like learning a language,” says Conner. “You can DIY it, but without lots of real-life practice, it’s hard to get anywhere.” Knowing what you’re tasting and why can help you along your wine journey in a number of ways:
Developing your palate: You may have heard the term “palate” tossed around by wine drinkers in the past, but it really just refers to a sense of taste, which can be developed by simply tasting. The more flavours you experience, the more sophisticated your palate will become because you’ll understand how taste elements differ from each other and how they work together to create unforgettable flavours.
Discovering food and wine pairings: Wine and food are a natural match for each other, and when you figure out which wines taste best with which dishes (according to your own palate), then you can take your meals to the next level.
Gaining a global perspective on wine: As corny as it sounds, you really can “travel the world” by tasting wines from different countries, continents, and regions. Learning about the climate and soil conditions of a particular country can help you understand how the wines from that nation develop their flavours. Paying attention to common wine and food pairings from that country will clue you in on how best to enjoy the bottles you purchase.
How to talk about wine
Because flavours are so subjective, it’s easy to dismiss wine-tasting terms as pretentious and less-than-useful. However, understanding a few basic phrases can give you all the vocabulary you need to describe the wines you enjoy (and the ones that you don’t). To get you started, here are a few commonly-used wine words:
Dry: “Dry” essentially translates to “not sweet”. Dry wines don’t contain residual sugar from the fermentation process (or, if they do, it’s in a very low quantity).
Off-dry: An off-dry wine features a small amount of residual sugar, which gives it a gentle sweetness. The French term for off-dry, “demi-sec,” is also frequently used in wine tastings and on bottle labels.
Sweet: A sweet wine — also known as a dessert wine — contains significant amounts of residual sugar and has a pronounced sweetness in its flavour.
Oaky: Many red wines and certain white wines undergo a process of ageing in oak barrels, and said barrels impart a woodsy, toasty flavour to the wine. The more time the wine spends in the oak barrels, the stronger the “oaky” flavour will become.
Full-bodied: This is a term generally used to describe red wines, and it refers to both the flavour of the wine and to its texture. A full-bodied wine boasts rich, complex flavours, a robust texture that coats your mouth and tongue, and (in most cases) a higher alcohol content than a light-bodied or medium-bodied wine.
Tannins/Tannic: Tannins are natural compounds found in wine grapes (particularly in the skins of said grapes). These compounds affect the texture of the wine in the mouth; the drying sensation that you may experience when drinking a glass of red wine comes from tannins. Tannins exist in both white and red wines, but because red wines are produced and aged with the grape skins still in contact, the tannic structure of red wines tends to be more prominent.
Grape: The vast majority of wines produced worldwide use grapes as their core ingredient. Wine grapes differ from “table grapes” designed for eating; they’re typically smaller, juicier, and more acidic. Most wine grapes are of the Vitis vinifera species, a style of grape specifically cultivated for wine production.
Style: Some wines are named after the style of grape used to make them; “Chardonnay”, “Cabernet Sauvignon”, and “Pinot Noir” are all examples of grapes that often lend their names to their wines. However, some wines take their names from the regions where they’re produced. French wines are especially notable for this pattern: “Champagne”, “Bordeaux”, and “Burgundy” all fit into the “wines named after regions” theme.
Now that you know how to talk about it, let’s get into the wines themselves. Below are many of the most popular wine styles you’ll find in stores and at restaurants, along with a few underrated gems.
Merlot is a red grape that’s grown throughout Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, and the United States. According to Conner, “some of the greatest wines in the world” are Merlots. “It’s plummy and juicy, and a bit softer than Cabernet [Sauvignon], which it is often blended with,” she says. It tastes delicious alongside charcuterie boards, roasted vegetables, and even cheeseburgers.
Like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon can grow in a wide variety of regions and is, therefore, an easy bottle to scoop up at any wine shop. As for flavour, Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied and dry. “Cabernet Sauvignon is ‘bigger’ than Merlot, and it has lots of tannins, which are those chewy, drying particles in reds,” says Conner. “It’s wildly popular and you can find stunning examples all over the world.”
“Pinot Noir is widely loved because it’s one of the rare lighter reds, but has tons of flavour and complexity,” says Conner. “It’s most famously from Burgundy, but there’s great Pinot all over the place, like in Oregon, New Zealand, and even Germany.” But she does warn that these wines can be fairly pricey: “Pinot is picky and fickle, it’s prone to disease and only thrives in certain climates. You have to be a good winemaker to make the best of it, in any conditions! That’s why it’s so prized, because when it’s good, it’s good, and the winemaker took these grapes from the right place, treated them right, and made them sing.”
Wines made with this red grape can claim two names, depending on where the grapes are grown and where the wines are produced. In the Rhȏne Valley region of France, these wines are called Syrah, but in Australia, they’re known as Shiraz. In both cases, you’ll find a rich, deeply-hued red wine with strong dark-berry notes and high tannins.
Like Syrah/Shiraz, the Zinfandel grape produces “big” red wines with lots of stage presence. Notes of dark fruit, tobacco, and leather are common when tasting Zinfandels. It’s a popular grape in California vineyards (and most Zinfandel is indeed grown in the Golden State), but you can also find it in Italy, South Africa, and New Zealand.
The Gamay grape is perhaps best known as the primary grape used to make Beaujolais. Made in France, Beaujolais wines are beloved for their light texture, high acidity, low tannins, and bright fruit flavours. Every November, the first release of Beaujolais bottles (known as “Beaujolais Nouveau”) makes a huge splash in the wine market both in the U.S. and abroad.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a glass of Chianti at an Italian restaurant, then you’ve experienced the Sangiovese grape. This purple-red grape produces many styles of wine made throughout Italy, all notable for their medium body, high tannins, red fruit flavours, and hints of spice. If you need a wine to pour at a red-sauce dinner, then Sangiovese will do you right.
“Chardonnay is a true winemaker’s grape; it can really do it all,” says Conner. “A lot of people think they don’t like it because all they’ve tried is their mom’s oak-bomb, buttered-popcorn ’90s Chardonnay. This style still exists, but it’s not very trendy anymore, so it’s easy to find Chards with less oak, more fruit, and more balance. Try Chablis from France if you want to taste a spectacular unoaked Chardonnay.”
This white grape famously makes lightweight wines with clean acidity and pronounced fruitiness. “Sauvignon Blanc is all about that fruit,” says Conner. “It has two main styles: the super-intense version with passion fruit aromas coming out of New Zealand, and the more restrained, grassy French style from Sancerre. There are great Sauvignon Blancs from Chile and the USA too.”
White grapes are typically easier to grow in cooler climates than red grapes, and Riesling, which originally hails from Germany, serves as a prime example. Riesling wine is highly versatile; it can be sweet, dry, still, sparkling, and anything in between. Its fruity, floral flavours tend to pair well with white meat, fish, and anything spicy.
Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
Known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Pinot Gris in France, this white grape makes a highly approachable and popular wine with citrus notes, zingy acidity, and a pleasant undercurrent of minerality. Alongside a platter of fresh seafood or a cheese plate, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris truly shines.
The Gewürztraminer grape is native to Germany, and wines made with it tend to feature fruit flavours like apricot and pear, along with herbaceous notes. In the US, Gewürztraminer proves especially popular at Thanksgiving, thanks to the fact that the wine’s gentle fruit and herbal aromas pair perfectly with turkey, stuffing, and all of the fixings.
Commonly grown in the Loire Valley of France and in South Africa, the Chenin Blanc grape translates to a white wine that’s light-bodied, appealingly tart, and easy to pair with a variety of dishes. Try it with soft cow’s milk cheeses like brie or with grilled or roasted veggies.
If you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc but want a white wine with even more fruit presence, then Albariño, a wine style native to Spain, could be perfect for you. Albariño is a medium-bodied white, which means it works very well as a food wine. Pair it with shellfish, white meat, or an entrée salad.
Contrary to popular belief, most rosé wines aren’t made by combining white grape juice with red grape juice. Instead, they’re made by removing the skins from red grapes after a brief period of time, resulting in a wine that’s light, refreshing, and a pretty shade of pink.
Some rosés are made with only one type of red grape, but many — like the mega-popular, super-refreshing pale-pink rosés that come from Provençe, France — come from a blend of grapes. Conner urges us to embrace blended wines like Provençal rosés: “I think that blends are underrated,” she says. “Many of the famous European wines are blends, and all the better for it! Blending is part of the art of winemaking, and especially with climate change disrupting vineyards, it will continue to be important in order to achieve balanced wines.”
Zinfandel rosés got a bad rap for many years due to the perception of “White Zinfandel” as overly sweet and not especially nuanced. However, you can now find plenty of quality Zinfandel rosés on the market, and many feature a delicate sweetness that makes them a great partner for BBQ dishes or grilled salmon.
Grenache is one of the grapes most commonly used in the Provençal rosé blend, but you can also find rosés made solely from this red grape. Grenache rosés burst with summery fruit flavours like strawberry and watermelon, and they’re delicious with Caprese salads, grilled eggplant, and Mediterranean fare.
Italian “Rosato” wine often comes from the Sangiovese grape, which gives this varietal a darker hue than some competitors and makes it a robust and spicy wine with plenty of red fruit flavour. There’s no better partner for Sangiovese rosé than pizza (especially grilled pizza).
Spanish Tempranillo (also grown in the US and South America) has an almost savoury quality to it, which gives this medium-bodied rosé an advantage where food friendliness is concerned. Enjoy it with anything from grilled meats to tacos to seafood to Spanish classics.
Some drinkers use “Champagne” as a catch-all term for “sparkling wine,” but the only wines that can truly claim the Champagne name must be produced in the Champagne region of France from grapes grown there. You can use white grapes to make a Champagne (called a “blanc des blancs”) or red grapes (a “blanc des noir”), but either way, you’ll end up with a phenomenal bottle packed with citrus notes, a bit of yeastiness, and a prominent fizz.
Not all sparkling wines produced in France fall into the Champagne category. If a wine is made using the same techniques as Champagne but isn’t from the Champagne region, then it’s known as a Crémant. Crémants boast many of the same flavour characteristics as Champagne, but they can often be purchased at a far lower price, making them one of the best bargains in the wine world.
These once-obscure sparkling wines of Venice now claim a major share in the wine market, and these Italian sparklers are bright, crisp, fresh, and very reasonably priced. Drink with a cheese and charcuterie board for a great start to a fun evening.
Cava, the sparkling wine most closely associated with Spain, uses the same production process as Champagne, but it’s made with a different range of grapes. The result is a dry and lively wine with a pleasant minerality — an almost flinty taste that comes from the soil where the grapes are grown. In fact, this minerality makes Cava a smart pairing choice for creamy dishes and sauces, since the wine has enough fortitude to cut through those weightier ingredients.
All of the sparklers listed above are whites — even the Champagnes that are made from red grapes. But you can also find sparkling reds, a great example of which is a Lambrusco. Lambrusco comes from Italy and is made from grapes of the same name. It can be either sweet or dry, but all versions have a relatively light body and a potent fizziness that makes it a whimsical choice for pizza or pasta night.
Fortified and dessert wines
One of the most popular sweet wines on the market, Port takes its name from its country of origin, Portugal. It’s a fortified wine, which means that it has a distilled spirit added to it, upping its alcohol content. Port comes in four different varieties: Ruby (a red Port), Tawny (a barrel-aged Port), White (a Port made with white grapes), and Rosé (a Port made the same way a typical rosé wine would be made). Bold cheeses, BBQ with a sweeter glaze, and, of course, desserts all pair beautifully with Port.
Like Port, Sherry qualifies as a fortified wine. It comes from the Andalusia region of Spain, and while all Sherry undergoes some level of ageing, darker versions (like Oloroso Sherry and Amontillado Sherry) spend more time in the barrel than lighter versions (like Fino Sherry). Sherry can be drier than other fortified wines, which gives it more food flexibility. It works just as well with an appetizer spread as it does with dessert.
Madeira, a fortified wine from a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa, bears many similarities to Port and Sherry. It often features nutty flavours and a hint of caramel, along with fruit notes like orange and peach.
A sweet Italian wine made from the Muscat Blanc grape, Moscato can be either still, sparkling, or semi-sparkling (with a lighter level of effervescence). The most popular Moscato, known as Moscato d’Asti, falls into the latter category. Moscato’s pronounced but not overwhelming sweetness lets it pair nicely with spicy dishes, savoury cheeses, and fruit-based desserts.
At the end of the day, a “good wine” is any wine that you enjoy. Spending serious bucks on high-end bottles isn’t necessary for a great tasting experience, but a bit of know-how will help simplify your shopping and will increase your chances of ending up with a wine that’s exactly what you want to drink.
“Winning the title of ‘WineWorks Champion Sparkling Wine’ at New Zealand’s most prestigious wine competition for the Aotea by the Seifried Family Méthode Traditionnelle NV is an exceptional feat in its own right. But for this Nelson winery, gaining such recognition with their first endeavour at a traditional style bubbly is cause for celebration. In 2010 winemaker Chris Seifried and his new bride, Susan spent four weeks in Epernay, in the heart of Champagne where they worked with Seifried family friends at Chateau Bauget-Jouette. It was an opportunity for Chris to see and learn everything he could about making Champagne, a style he had always enjoyed but never ventured to learn.
Inspired to make his own Nelson style of Méthode Traditionnelle, Chris and Susan returned to New Zealand in time for harvest 2011, and along with his father Hermann, and sister Heidi, they identified two of the family’s own vineyards that he felt would offer the fruit characters he was after. In early March 2011, the hand-selected fruit was harvested from the family’s Brightwater and ‘Cornfield’ Vineyards, both on the Waimea Plains. Made using 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, the stony, free-draining soils produced bright, exuberant fruit. Chris credits Hermann and his vineyard team for bringing in fruit that he could work with, “the challenge for the vineyard crew was to ensure full flavoured fruit, with all the character and texture, but without excessively high sugar levels”.
Made using traditional winemaking methods, and four years bottle ageing prior to disgorging, the wine has smooth biscuity notes and a delicate dry finish. Chris says that crafting a traditional style bubbly had its challenges. ‘The aim was to produce bright flavoursome fruit, but the trick when it comes to bubbly really is the bead – and getting a balance of a fine bead, with a rich dry doughiness.’
The Aotea by the Seifried Méthode Traditionnelle NV was released in late 2016, in time for the family’s 40 years of winemaking celebration roadshow, which took place in Dublin, London and Nelson last November. A celebration where Chris acknowledged his parents work as pioneering modern winemaking in New Zealand’s South Island. “With this wine, we celebrate Mum and Dad’s vision, and the arrival of the next generation, our children, who are growing up in the vineyard and winery. We hope that they too will share the passion for crafting great wines.”
Chris’s eldest child Amelia, was born just six weeks after the grapes for the Méthode Traditionnelle were harvested, and just 15 hours after Heidi Seifried-Houghton, Chris’s sister (who is also a winemaker in the family business) gave birth to her first child, Josef. Now recognised as Seifried’s most fruitful harvest ever, the 2011 vintage not only produced the first grandchildren, but also the grapes for this champion sparkling wine.”
TROPHY: “Champion Sparkling Wine”, Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2017, NZ GOLD: Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2017, NZ
Variety: 50% Pinot Noir / 50% Chardonnay Vineyard: Seifried Cornfield and Brightwater Vineyards Sugar at Harvest: 19.4°Brix Date of Harvest: Early March 2011 Disgorgement Date: September 2016 T.A of Wine: 5.8g/L Residual Sugar: 1g/L (Brut) Alc.: 12.5% vol. Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
In 1971 my father Hermann Seifried arrived in New Zealand with a dream of making great wines. He and my mother Agnes pioneered modern winemaking in the Nelson region, planting the first vines and in 1976 producing their first wines. Now, 40 years later we celebrate their vision and the arrival of the next generation, our children, who are growing up in the vineyard and winery. We hope that they too will share the passion for crafting fine wines.
Our Aotea Méthode Traditionnelle is a very special wine. Two parcels of fruit were hand picked at ideal ripeness for this classical Méthode Traditionnelle Cuvée. The Pinot Noir is from our Brightwater Vineyard while the Chardonnay comes from our Cornfield Vineyard. The blend is 50/50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The grapes were hand harvested during the cool early hours of the day and brought to the winery quickly for processing. The free-run juice from the press was cold settled overnight before being racked, warmed and inoculated. A smooth ferment progressed to dryness, followed by malolactic fermentation. The young wine was then prepared for bottle fermentation and aged on lees for an extended period. In 2016 the wine was finished and released to celebrate our 40th vintage at Seifried’s. Chris Seifried.
The Cornfield Vineyard is situated on a wide river flat. The soil is gravelly sandy loam, which marks the sites of Maori kumara beds (sweet potato) prior to European settlement in the early 1800’s. The Maori transferred and spread fine gravel and sand over the land to provide suitable soils for their kumara pla
You’re probably aware that there are glasses intended for red wine, and glasses intended for white wine. You may even know that red wine glasses are generally larger than white ones. However, can you recognize the subtle differences in form between a Cabernet and Pinot glass, or how each was designed to target a specific spot on the palate?
For today’s lesson, we’ve lined up the eight types of stemware stocked within any respectable restaurant and bar worth its salt (or grapes, for that matter). Explore the chart below and prepare to be schooled. Continue reading →
November 2013 Tasting – Festive Wines with Advintage
John (Mac) Macpherson from Advintage will be presenting again in November.
Not all sparkling but all with the festive theme.
Mac is likely to be accompanied by John Kemble again so be prepared for an entertaining night.
The Advintage philosophy, well at least in part.
“When you’re a wine store based in the sleepy but ever-so-slightly pretentious Hawkes Bay village of Havelock North (pop. 10,000) and you ship thousands of cases of wine nationwide each month, you must be doing something right. Right? Well, we’d like to think so. In fact doing things right is all we think about. And we’ve been thinking that way since 1999 when we first embraced internet wine sales. And our humble provincial wine store changed. Forever.
Fast forward to the current day and Advintage is one of New Zealand’s largest and most trusted online wine retailers. And while our business has changed dramatically over the years, our basic principles remain the same as the day we opened our doors. We offer really good wines at really good prices. And we give all our clients really good, really friendly service.”
As expected this was another stellar evening for the Club with an excellent presentation, and some lovely wines, from the Mission Estate.
The tasting included; a Sauvignon Blanc as a quaffer followed by the Fete Sparkling, Reserve Chardonnay, Reserve Pinot Noir, Reserve Syrah, VS Pinot Gris, and was rounded off with a Reserve Noble Harvest.
A great and entertaining meeting with a brilliant turnout of 43 people. There was a good range of wines and Trevor was one of the best presenters the club has had in a while.
An order form was not available on the night but Wayne arranged for it to be emailed out with the club prices, which last for the rest of the month.