Every month we like to bring our customers along on an educational journey. Focusing on different aspects of the wine world, we will cover the regions, producers, and winemaking processes that make wine such an exciting thing to drink and discuss. This month it's all about pet-nats! Read on to learn about what a pet-nat is, how its made, and the ones we have in stock today.
What is a Pet-Nat?
The abbreviation pet-nat is short for "Petillant Natural", a French term that loosely translates to "naturally sparkling". Pet-nat is considered to be the oldest method for producing sparkling wine, indeed another term for Pet-nat is "Methode Ancestral" which translates to "Ancestral Method". While most other methods of producing sparkling wine utilize specific grape varietals (Glera for Prosecco, or Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for Champagne) a Pet-Nat can be comprised of any grape varietal.
How is a Pet-Nat Produced?
During alcohol fermentation in wine production, yeast consume the natural sugar present in grapes. Wine is usually fermented in open-top fermenters to prevent carbonation. A Pet-nat, alternatively, is bottled with a 'crown' cap similar to what you see on a beer bottle prior to fermentation, and thus the carbon dioxide is trapped within the bottle, creating a naturally sparkling wine. Due to the fermentation and carbonation occurring after bottling, the winemaker has less control over the finished product and each Pet-nat is a unique experience!
How is a Pet-Nat Different from Champagne?
Champagne, alongside many other types of sparkling wine, is produced by combining a finished wine that has already undergone fermentation with a small amount of yeast and sugary liqueur before capping each bottle. This additional yeast and sugar is known as the 'dosage' or 'dose', and it enables the secondary fermentation that creates the sparkle in these wines.
While champagne and other sparkling wines with carefully controlled 'dosage' can be aged, it is not generally a good idea to age Pet-nat. As the wine ages, the yeast continue to consume the sugar in the wine and it will become drier as time goes by. This can be a lot of fun, allowing you to tailor a particular vintage of Pet-nat to your own taste by consuming earlier for a sweeter wine with larger bubbles, or allowing the wine to continue fermentation in a sunny window for a drier wine with softer and smaller bubbles. It is suggested to consume a Pet-nat within three months of purchase.
Like all sparkling wine, Pet-nats pair well with food, particularly when dining outside. Think pulled pork on the back deck, pizza on the porch, or a charcuterie plate on the patio. Pet-nats are generally low-abv, most are well under 13%, making them a fantastically refreshing wine perfect for spring and summer days.
Our Pet-Nat Picks
Sauvignon Blanc Pet-Nat - Orbis Moderandi - $21
A fizzy and refreshing white produced with fruit from the beautiful hunter estate in New Zealand, expect notes of sour lemon and grapefruit with a light floral finish. Bottled at 14g/L of sugar, approximately 30% less than the average sparkling wine, this dry and clean sparkling wine is perfectly paired with a beautiful Appalachian spring day!
Kisi Pet-Nat - Dakishvili - $35
This wine is made with the Kisi grape varietal native to the Eastern European country of Georgia. With notes of Pears and Tropical Fruits, it leaves a tantalizing floral aftertaste. This is a one of a kind, exceptionally rare pet-nat produced by the dakishvili family in Kakheti, Georgia.
Pinot Noir Pet-Nat - Sanctum Volk - $28
A beautifully light expression of Pinot Noir from Slovenia, it is inspired by the macerated whites prominent in that country. Aromas of toasted lemon give way to pear and apple on the palette alongside a touch of coconut. Festive and textured, the bubbles add a playful element that pairs well with grilled white meats and curries as well as damp spring evenings spent with good friends.
Zweigelt Pet-Nat - Heaps Good Offshoot - $27
Another pet-nat from Slovenia, this dry sparkling Zweigelt is rich both in color and on the palette. It's a sight to behold as it pours into the glass, with notes of blackcurrant, plums, juniper and a bright finish of dried cranberries. Heaps good is a small family owned and operated winery producing exceptional wines from the green hills around Slovenska Bistrica in the region of Stajerska in the east of Slovenia.