St. Raphael Rouge

I was delighted to find this aperitif during our recent trip to Bordeaux. While in a little grocery store buying some essentials for the apartment, I had to check out the wine section and low and behold, St. Raphael.

St. Raphael, Rougue, nv There is a strong sense of chocolate, reminiscent of Tootsie rolls in the nose and on the palate. You can taste red fruits, sweetness and bitterness, making for a great relief after a day of tasting wine or drinking coffee at work.

For years this was my favorite aperitif, enjoying it regularly when I lived in Pittsburgh.  Yet it fell out of distribution in the United States and has been impossible to find in Northern California. Fortunately it is still available in France, where it is produced in St. Raphael. 14% 7.42 euros for a one litre bottle, purchased at a small grocery store in Langon.

St. Raphael advert 1938On the front label this aperitif notes that it is concocted with wine, plant extracts, ecorces de quinquina et d’oranges ameres. It is described as a boisson aromatisee a base de vin. Like Pineau des Charentes, this beverage is a mistelle, a base of grape juice to which spirit is added, arresting fermentation and retaining much of the original fruit character.

What a treat to rediscover this aperitif after many years of abstinence.

St. Raphael

About Ray

Ray Johnson is the Executive Director of the Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University. He writes about food and wine, his travels and the business of wine. He makes his home in Sonoma County, California.
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1 Response to St. Raphael Rouge

  1. Jim says:

    Is there any way to get San Raphael here in the states? It has always been my favorite aperitif, and it’s impossible to find it in NYC.

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