What is a Pet-Nat?
I bet there’s some out there wondering what this cool, new wine thing Pet-Nat is, right?
Funnily enough, this hip new trend is actually one of the oldest methods of making lightly sparkling wine in the world!
This way of making wine can be traced back to the monks of Limoux, Southern France, as far back as the 1500s. This long history has led to many in modern winemaking naming the production method the Ancestral Method.
Currently, Pet-Nats (short for Pétillant Naturel) are all the rage, but how are they made?
Unlike the fully sparkling traditional method wines of Champagne, Cremant or Cava, these wines are produced by a single fermentation (whilst traditional method wines see two fermentations).
The trick lies in the partially fermented juice being bottled, with no SO2 addition. The fermentation then finishes inside that very bottle.
As the yeasts convert sugar to alcohol and complete their journey to dryness (leaving a little residual sugar behind) the by-product of carbon dioxide is created and captured in the bottle - voila, bubbles!
How fizzy are they?
If you’ve drunk a few Pet-Nats before, you’ve probably wondered why some are more sparkling than others (warning for first-timers: watch out for gushing Pet-Nat’s).
Winemakers choose the amount of pressure they want in the final wine by measuring the sugar content of the partially fermented juice and bottling at the right moment.
That said, even the most exact science is a bit of an unknown and bottle variation is very common, as is batch variation.
Once the fermentation has finished, the winemaker decides whether to disgorge them, and they remain unfiltered, leaving a hazy glow of sediment that can be shaken up or left to settle at the bottom of the bottle - that’s your choice!
Tip: try gentling shaking or not and see which flavour profile you like the best.
Pet-Nat bottles are closed with a crown cap (like those used on some beer bottles) for no other reason than fashion, cost and ease of use.
Why? Because mushroom corks (used in traditional method bottles) are a pain to insert and require specialist equipment, making them expensive.
Now the fun part - What do they taste like?
They’re typically low alcohol, fresh, with vibrant fruit and often have a slight lingering sweetness on the palate.
The mouthfeel is often quite rounded and some can feel that bready/yeasty quality in the wines.
The beauty is, they are all different, the sheer amount of winemakers around the world making these wines keep it interesting for even the most seasoned veterans.
My advice - try one, or two, or ten!
Wanna try some?
These tried & tested winners below are sure to give you the best impressions of how fantastic these wines can be.
This bottle by Mirco Mariotti is nicely saline, refreshing and simply put... it's a REFRESHING pet-nat! It is crisp, but still has a slight twang. This wine really is great value for it's low price.
Baked pear, biscuit, elderflower and some mild aromatics with a noticable yeasty touch.
Delicious Pet Nat and excellent value too!
Notes of wild honey, camomile and brioche. Refreshing, and also available as a half-size bottle (350ml) if you want a smaller size.
Fantastic Riesling Pet Nat from Strekov 1075!
Give this a couple extra minutes to open up and reveal it’s full character. Bursts of quince, citrus, yeast, minerality, and later herbs like thyme and buttery notes.
Open carefully very cold. Lovely pet nat!
One for winelovers looking for a little adventure, it really impressed us beyond what most Pet Nats do.
Wild, unique and slightly floral with a Cinnamon touch