Pet Nat (abbreviated from ‘petillant naturel’) is a natural sparkling wine that is made with as little intervention as possible. There is nothing added during the process, and nothing filtered out at the end.
The wine is bottled while it is still undergoing fermentation and sealed using a crown cap (which traps a small amount of carbon dioxide) to create the bubbles. The French call this process of bottling wine during its initial round of fermentation “methode ancestral,” and it has been around far longer than other, more complex methods of producing sparkling wine.
As a bonus, because there are no added ingredients in Pet Nat, they are naturally lower in alcohol and contain less sugar than other sparkling wines. Pet Nat wines can be a little less predictable in relation to flavour and carbonation as there is no intervention after it is bottled. This means that some Pet Nat wines can be a little sweet when first opened. This is simply the result of some residual natural sugar that hasn’t yet undergone fermentation.
Pet Nat wines tend to get drier as time passes so if you want to be sure your wine isn’t too sweet – leave it in a sunny spot for a few days to encourage the in-bottle fermentation. That said – Pet Nat Wines are best served super chilled to take full advantage of their fizz and flavour.
Why are Pet Nat wines so popular?
Pet Nat wines have become popular because of their versatility and easy drinking nature. But they have some additional benefits too. Firstly, they tend to be a cheaper alternative to traditional sparkling wines which makes them more accessible to a wider market.
Secondly, while classic sparkling wine is made from a fairly narrow range of grape varieties, Pet Nat wines can be made with any grape. This means that winemakers are experimenting with a whole lot of unusual grape combinations which is resulting is some really fun and interesting flavours.
This also means that Pet Nats can be any colour – white, rose, red or even orange – making them a super flexible option for pairing with food because they go with pretty much anything.
And on top of all this, as they are made without any additives, Pet Nat wines are lower in sugar and alcohol make them an easy choice for the health conscious.
Are there Non alcoholic Pet Nat wines?
The winemaking technique which underpins traditional Pet Nat wines is also being explored by a growing number of producers creating non-alcoholic wines.
Chef William Wade has partnered with Aaron Trotman to create NON. They layer together different grapes and flavours to produce seriously tasty wines with enormous appeal for people who like their sparkling wines.
Melbourne based craft-brewery Monceau has combined Pet Nat with kombucha to produce a range of drinks that are strong on flavour but are also vegan friendly, non-alcoholic and low in sugar.
The universal appeal Pet Nat wines combined with an increasing preference for food and drink that has minimal intervention (no chemicals, less processed, organically sourced, locally grown) suggests that we are going to be seeing a lot more Pet Nat options in the next few years. There is something very appealing about a process that is centuries old, inspiring the palates and preferences of a new generation of drinkers.