Know Your Grapes: Picpoul Taste and Pairings

What does picpoul taste like and pair well with?

Picpoul is an up-and-coming grape variety traditionally grown in France's Rhone Valley. It generally produces acidic, minerally whites, with more citrus notes than a white wine like Sancerre or Muscadet. It's not a wine for aging - instead, this is something you want to drink right away, ideally on a warmer day.

I've recently started to see Picpoul on a number of restaurant lists - in fact, I had very good ones at Homestead in Chicago and the great Neptune Oyster Bar in Boston, both within the last two months. Picpoul makes sense as a food wine - its acid gives it a great palatte-cleansing quality, and its generally restrained fruit and complete lack of oak mean that it will not overpower delicate dishes like some delicous oysters.

Tablas Creek, a well-regarded California producer, successfully led the petition process to have Picpoul recognized as a varietal in the United States. It feels that Picpoul has a bright future in the country, saying that "in California, Picpoul maintains its bright acidity, but also develops an appealing tropical lushness." While I haven't tried a Picpoul from Tablas Creek or any other U.S. producer, for that matter, I'm excited about the prospect of its domestic expansion!

If you do find Picpoul on a restaurant list, it's likely to be one of the cheaper options. Don't let that deter you! It's a great food wine, and ordering it will make you look like a pro since no one else will know what it is! In general, Picpoul pairs well with oysters, other lighter seafoods, and some cream-based dishes where the acid serves as the perfect counterfoil to the tongue-coating creaminess.

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