Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Crafting Valentines While Drinking Old Westminster “You Are My Sunshine” 2019 Sparkling Piquette

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate with your loved ones and for me that meant spending it with my nephew and niece making Valentine’s crafts and drinking a unique “wine” I had never had before…Piquette. Sipping the low alcohol, fun Old Westminster “You Are My Sunshine” 2019 Piquette, while my nephew and niece drink a non-alcoholic sparkling soda was the highlight of my week and is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

Piquette, which is derived from the French word for “prick” or “prickle” is a low-alcohol wine made from the second pressings of grape must. Piquette actually dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who made it because it was cheap and gave it to the slaves and field workers. French vineyard workers enjoy drinking it during lunch as the low-alcohol drink does not hinder afternoon work. In Italy, it is called acqua pazza, acquarello and vinello.

Piquette is not technically wine because it is not made from fermented grapes. It is made from the leftover skins, seed, and stems, which would normally be thrown out. Instead, water is added to the grape pomace and the lingering sugars are fermented. Piquette can be made from any grape variety and is typically between 4-9% alcohol. It is bottled under a crown cap (like beer).

Established in 2011, Old Westminster is a winery located in the rolling countryside of Carroll County in Maryland and run by three siblings, Drew Baker, Lisa Hinton and Ashli Johnson. Determined to put Maryland wine on the world map, they do everything by hand, work only with Maryland-grown grapes, and practice sustainable farming to produce low intervention wines. In 2018, they drank a piquette from another winery and fell in love with the drink. With all their leftover pommace, they decided to make their own piquette. Today they offer pet-nat piquette, skin contact piquette in cans, and “wine x piquette”.

The Old Westminster “You Are My Sunshine” 2019 is a blend of 55% verjus (highly acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes), 35% piquette blanc, and 10% piquette rouge. The pommace is fermented with wild yeast. “You Are My Sunshine” is a bright salmon color and has notes of cranberry, raspberry, and lemon. On the palate, the wine is tart like watermelon sour patch kids.

Old Westminster “You Are My Sunshine” 2019 Sparkling Piquette is yummy and fun to drink. It can be paired with fried chicken, tacos, ceviche, a cheese plate, or just enjoy it on its own.

As I enjoyed this fun wine, my niece and nephew enjoyed a delicious non-alcohol sparkling “wine” from Italy. The Gavioli is made from 100% Italian grapes and is non-alcoholic, all natural, with no sugar added, and flavored with blood orange. My niece was a definite fan!

And while we sipped out wines, we made Valentine’s crafts. The kids made robots.

And we also crafted Valentine’s hearts by painting puzzle pieces and them gluing them to card stock we had cut in the shape of a heart.

It was a great afternoon with fun activities and tasty, unique “wine”. If you are interested in trying this unique Piquette, the Old Westminster Winery is currently sold out but a few bottles remain available through Wine Cult for $29.