Pet Nats Are The Naturally Sparkling Wines We Should All Be Drinking

Anna Lewis
·4-min read

From Delish

You may have heard people talking about Pet Nat wine in the past, and instead of admitting you have no idea what they're talking about, you nodded along, right? Hey, this is a judgment-free zone - we've all been there...

But the good news is, now you never have to do that again, as we've spoken to RAW WINE founder, Isabelle Legeron MW, and she's told us everything we need to know about these naturally sparkling wines.

What is Pet Nat wine?

A Pet Nat (short for the French 'pétillant naturel' meaning ’natural sparkling') is a wine made according to the ancestral method. Developed in the 16th century, this is the oldest way of making sparkling wine, and is the result of a single, continuous fermentation. What this means is that fermenting juice is bottled while it is still fermenting, i.e. while the yeast is still consuming the grape sugars in the juice. This results in the fermentation then continuing inside the bottle; trapping CO2 in the process, which is given off by the yeast. The resulting wine therefore has bubbles in it.

Given the seeming simplicity of the method, you’d be forgiven for thinking that any Joe Bloggs could do it, but Pet Nat making is actually incredibly technical and requires precision and know-how. Bottle your fermenting juice too late and you’ll end up with a flat wine. Bottle it too early and the mounting pressure can make the bottle explode.

What makes Pet Nat special, and how is it different to other sparkling wines?

Since the wine is still undergoing fermentation when it's bottled, it can be drunk very young indeed - within a few months of bottling in fact. Young, it will likely have some residual sugars leftover, making it slightly sweet. But wait a few months and these will slowly be consumed by the live yeast in the bottle; eventually morphing the fizz into a completely dry drink. It is great fun to follow this evolution over time so make sure you buy more than one bottle if you want to give it a go.

What does Pet Nat wine taste like?

Pet Nats tend to be juicier and easier to drink (dangerously so at times...) than a lot of other sparkling wines, particularly if drunk young. But they can also be very serious and complex, especially when growers age the fizz before releasing it onto the market.

Why has Pet Nat wine become so popular recently?

This very old method is experiencing a revival because of its versatility and easy-drinking nature. It is also made without any additives or winemaking aids whatsoever since the sugars and yeast are already there. The CO2 also acts as a preservative. Consequently, natural wine producers love this style of wine.

Which country makes the best Pet Nat wine?

Today, Pet Nats are produced all over the world. The main area of production is perhaps France: its country of origin. Indeed the Loire, for example, is a great source of Pet Nat wines, but you can also find exceptional examples on every continent, including in the Caucasus: the birthplace of wine.

What’s the best way to store and serve Pet Nat wine?

You should store them as you would any wine: in a cool, dark place, away from sources of heat and light. And they’re best served chilled.

What foods go best with Pet Nat wines?

Pet Nats are incredibly versatile and come in all styles and colours. Some styles, especially the fuller-bodied rosé, orange or even red Pet Nats work well with food.

They’re very versatile so they work with all sorts of dishes. The only thing to be wary of though is the possibility of some residual sugar in younger bottles as this can make them trickier to match with your meal. But, if that's the case, then they make a great apéritif. I personally love drinking an orange Pet Nat with roasted chestnuts. Perfect for this time of year.

What’s your favourite Pet Nat wine?

I have lots of favourites! But at the moment I am drinking a lot of Camillo Donati, for example.

Head to RAW WINE to find out more about orange wines and other natural wines.

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