What is Pet-Nat?
Pét-Nat (pet-nat/pet nat/pét nat) is short for Pétillant Natural – naturally fizzy. While this style of wine has become very popular in the last decade (due to its often-Lo-Fi nature) it is actually a very old style of wine making. Known as méthode ancestrale or ancestral method in France, this style can be traced back to at least Tudor times and pre-dates Champagne as the oldest sparkling wine style.
So, what are Pét-Nats? As we discussed in the Wine 101 Carbon Dioxide is created during alcoholic fermentation. In order to trap this gas, the liquid is transferred from vats to bottles and then sealed before the fermentation has finished. This allows the gas to incorporate into the wine and become pétillant. The Natural part comes in as there is less human intervention in this process compared to the secondary fermentation methods used elsewhere. The wine is often left unfiltered and contains sediment from the fermentation in the bottle, essentially a Lo-Fi sparkling wine.
Pét-Nats come in a huge range of styles as it can be made using most grape varieties. The Winemaker also needs to get the timing of the bottling just right. Too early means more CO2 resulting in the classic Pét-Nat explosion or unfermented grape sugars resulting in a sweeter experience. Too late and there may be no fizz at all or an overly acidic experience. With more and more winemakers experimenting with the style, however, more are getting it right. Crisp expressions of the grape variety with a refreshing spritz and a velvety texture in a rainbow of colours!