Pineau des Charentes AOC, France; 17% ABV
imported by Halby Marketing, Sonoma, CA
$5 for 375ml at the Richmond, CA, store
When I ordered this, I thought it was just some French white wine I’d never heard of. When it arrived, I was completely baffled, so I looked up Pineau des Charentes in Wikipedia: It is “a regional French aperitif … a fortified wine (mistelle or vin de liqueur), made from either fresh, unfermented grape juice or a blend of lightly fermented grape must, to which a Cognac eau-de-vie [twice-distilled spirits] is added and then matured.” So, of course, I had to try one.
I think this is delicious! It’s sweet from the fresh grapes, but a little less sweet than a dessert wine. I’m not satisfied with my description here, but what comes to mind is honeysuckle / honey and yellow-grapey canned oranges, peaches, and pears. The flavor of purified alcohol is also prominent. I prefer it chilled. For me, at least, this aperitif, with its delicious sweetness and high alcohol content, is a bit dangerous. 🙂