Monday, December 20, 2010

Varietally Correct Soda; Vignette Wine Country Soda

The foodie revolution we've undergone these last few years has resulted in a significant uptick in quality restaurants, more imaginative cuisines, and a serious look at what many of us may have considered casual fare. The trickle down effect has caused some serious advances in street food as well as more attention paid to things like soda pop, candy, and chips. If you're me, this translates to awesome.

You may recall that not too long ago, I wrote a piece on the new Pinot Noir soda being released at this year's upcoming IPNC. On the heels of that piece I received an email from Patrick Galvin of Vignette Wine Country Soda. Patrick wanted me to know about the soda that he was making out of Berkeley California, using California fruit. Naturally, after the publicity he'd received in both the New York Times and the Oprah magazine, The Oregon Wine Blog was the next logical step. Patrick sent along a bottle of each of his sodas. He's currently making a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a Rose soda, with the Rose soda made from Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Following proper tasting protocols we started our soda tasting with the Chardonnay varietal soda. Gwynne chuckled and shook her head at me as I poured the soda into the stemware. A couple swirls and sips later and I could tell that this wasn't your ordinary soda. The nose was sweeter, as this was soda, but there were serious ripened pear and honeysuckle on the nose of the Chardonnay soda. The soda has a nicely balanced sweetness to it that’s complimented by the crispness. It was very refreshing. The Rose was next. It received similar stemware treatment, and swirling and sipping revealed a whole lotta strawberry on this wine, er, soda.

We wrapped up tasting of the Vignette sodas with the Pinot Noir. There were lots of berry flavors, and so much blackberry that it probably could have passed for a blackberry soda. Again, the soda's sweetness is light and balanced, though Gwynne found the Pinot Noir to be the sweetest of the three.

These sodas? They're really, really good. As Patrick noted, they don't taste like wine, they taste like the grapes themselves. They're all naturally sweetened by the grapes, and are comprised of sparkling water and concentrated juice from the particular varietal. Without the fermentation that wine goes through they lack the complexity in flavor that you'll find in wine but there are certainly a few things going on in the way they smell.

The biggest thing Gwynne and I took away was that these sodas were really refreshing. They had light fruit flavors and were a great change of pace.

Patrick told me that he had developed his Vignette sodas after he and his wife had their first child. He'd noticed that there weren't a lot of great non alcoholic options for her during her pregnancy. The Vignette Wine Country Sodas are luckily available in wine country down in California and they're starting to pop up in Oregon as well. If you're out doing some tasting, these beverages are a great way to let kids, pregnant women or designated drivers feel a little more like they're part of the experience.

Vignette sodas have been around now for four years and have made their way up to Oregon. You can find them at The Allison Inn & Spa, Immortal Pie & Larder and Foster & Dobbs. You can also buy directly from Vignette here by the 12 pack. The next time you are in the mood for a change of pace but can't bare the thought of a day without Pinot Noir, pop the cap on a well chilled Vignette Country Soda and thank me later.


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