What is Pet Nat? The sparkling alternative to prosecco that's gaining in popularity

Marie Claire Dorking
·4-min read
Why we're switching Prosecco for Pet Nat. (Getty Images)
Why we're switching Prosecco for Pet Nat. (Getty Images)

Scooch over prosecco, there’s a new sparkling wine tickling our taste buds and it looks set to become our new favourite tipple.

If you’re feeling a bit of fizz fatigue, allow us to introduce you to pét nat, or “pétillant naturel”, to use its full title.

The sparkling drink is a little like prosecco or Champagne, but the bubbles are created naturally by a single fermentation inside the bottle.

The bubbly drinks you might be used to drinking actually get their fizz from added yeast and sugar.

We were first introduced to the idea of pét nat by cookbook writer Jessie Ware on a recent episode of the podcast Table Manners.

“Have you been drinking pét nat recently?” she asked guest Melanie C. “I’m hooked. It’s basically natural wine that’s fizzy, it’s so delicious.”

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But, interestingly, pét nat is not a new drink, in fact it is sometimes described as the original sparkling wine as the technique used to make it is thought to date back hundreds of years.

What is pét nat wine?

“Pétillant naturel, or the easier to chew abbreviation pét nat, is a type of sparkling wine that adopts a simplified methodology than the traditional method of making sparkling wine or champagne,” explains Nicholas Jones, winemaker and head buyer at Winebuyers.com.

Pét nat is actually traditionally cloudy and bottled, with a crown cap rather than a cork, before primary fermentation is finished.

“When we put a cap on a wine that hasn’t finished fermentation we get some more alcohol and most importantly bubbles of carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 in a still wine is allowed to float off into the atmosphere but under a crown cap in a bottle the gas has nowhere to go but to dissolve into the wine. Hey presto - you have fizzy wine.”

Pét nat comes in white, rosé and red, which means it will appeal to all wine lovers.

Additionally, like many natural wines the end product is usually unpredictable, meaning each bottle will be slightly different.

Pet Nat is the new sparkling wine on our must-order list. (Getty Images)
Pét nat is the new sparkling wine on our must-order list. (Getty Images)

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What’s more it is developing a bit of a cult following.

Instagram account @petnatposse has almost 10,000 followers and growing every day.

But, according to Jones, some experts believe pét nat has been in the realm for 500 years, so why is it becoming so popular now?

“It is ostensibly tied to the natural wine movement that is rather in vogue at present,” he explains. “Pét nat is seen as an unadulterated way of making sparkling wine with minimal intervention from the winemaker.

“This is somewhat paradoxical as the winemaker must intervene to cut the grapes from the vine in the first place, crush them a bit and get that wine into a bottle at the end of its primary fermentation.”

As with any wine made naturally, pét nat is also likely to be slightly lower in alcohol (typically 10-12% abv) and with no added sugars or preservatives, it offers a slightly healthier alternative to prosecco.

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How expensive is Pet Nat?

Though it is typically more expensive than your average bottle of wine or prosecco, it is cheaper than champagne.

You can find bottles for £15, but you can expect to typically pay up to £25 for a recommended bottle.

“There are some very good and enjoyable pét nats but the majority of the time this isn’t a serious wine like Champagne and shouldn’t command prices to match,” explains Jones.

“It’s a very quick and hands off way to make a sparkling wine that can be enjoyed very young.”

Jones adds that it’s likely wineries will continue jumping on the bandwagon as this style of wine increases in popularity.

He’s suggested Gilbert Pet Nat Riesling to get you going on the whole pét nat thing.