To all those wine lovers, who are open to trying new styles of bubbly wines, this one’s for you and it’s called Pet Nat, also known as Petillant Naturel.
Although this wine may seem new, it actually has been around for centuries. Originating from Loire Valley of France, this wine has made its way to California to New Zealand. Now this a natural wine movement!
Don’t feel discouraged when you try your first Pet Nat. These wines may seem a little funky, but they are adventurous and honest wines.
The colors are unique from the traditional wines we are used to drinking, and its cloudiness might make you think this wine has turned.
But in fact, this wine is in its most natural state with little to no additives and minimal intervention.
The rules to producing Pet Nat Wines are loose and upfront, so with every batch you get something new and exciting.
This wine will immediately pull you in with its beautiful hues and will have you drinking till the last drop is gone from your glass.
WHAT IS PET NAT WINE?
These effervescent wines can range from sweet to dry, aromatic to funky, clear to cloudy. Unlike other wines, Pet Nat Wines tend to be lower in Alcohol content and reasonably price.
Let’s break down the name!
Petillant is a French term for, “slightly sparkly,” so there is no flatness here with this wine.
And it gets the name, “Natural,” from its natural process of being made and its minimal intervention. This means no sugars, yeast, disgorgement, pesticides, or sulfurs are added to the wine.
Some ways to identify a Pet Nat is by the crown-cap that is used to seal the wine. The reason it’s capped and not corked, is because the wine is bottled before the fermentation is completed.
Pet Nat Wines are not regulated by regional appellation controls. So the fun experimental part for the producer is they can use any combination of grape varieties, resulting in fun flavors, and unique texture!
Pet Nat Pronounciation
The French word Pet Nat is pronounced, “Pet-Nat.” When you go to wine a bar you might hear “Petillant Naturel,” but let’s keep it easy by saying Pet Nat.
IS PET NAT WINE NATURAL WINE?
The term “organic” and “natural” can be loosely used in the United States. Petillant producers do their best to keep these Wines organic and natural as possible.
“Nat” is short for Natural and so it is no wonder why these producers want to stay true to its name. Natural here means no sugars, yeast, pesticides, or sulfurs are added to the wine.
On occasion, producers may decide the wine needs additives, and if so, it will be disclosed on the label.
Generally, all harvesting is done by hand and without the use of machine picking. Wine Enthusiast’s suggest handpicking is gentler on the vines and grapes, limiting damaged or broken fruit that may lead to oxidation, unpleasant aromatics, and bacterial growth.
Another advantage of using the handpicking system is eliminating the use of a tractor. This ultimately reduces fuel from penetrating the soil and minimizes a carbon footprint.
These producers are extremely mindful of being biodynamic and organic. So you can feel good about how the wine was prepare from soil to wine glass.
In France, there are stricter guidelines to labeling bottles “natural.” Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) created a new wine distinction called, “Petillant Originel.”
The wine may be labeled “Petillant Originel” if it follows the legal regulations.
This designation states, the wine producer is not allowed to add sugars or yeast throughout the entire fermentation process, must be harvested by hand, whole cluster pressing, the grapes much stay on their leaves for nine months, and must be within a minimum of potential alcohol content!
With these strict guidelines, it makes sense to as why there isn’t many of Petillant Originel wine producers in France.
THE HISTORY OF PET NAT WINE
When we talk about the history of Pet Nat Wine, we are actually talking about the history of the Ancestral Method. Dating back to almost 500 years ago, this is the oldest methods of making sparkling wine!
In the 1500s, there were monks that lived in Limoux, France, who produced this wine on accident. One of the monks, at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, had bottle their wine and later returned to find bubbles had appeared.
It has been proposed because of the cold weather, the wine stopped its fermentation and restarted when temperatures began to rise.
This accidental incident created the birth of the Ancestral Method which resulted in the making of Pet Nat Wines.
Jumping to 1990’s, the same unintentional incident happened to Christian Chaussard with his wines. He had noticed some of his wines had begun to restart their fermentation process because of their residual sugars.
Christian Chaussard took this accident and made it purposeful by experimenting with this different grapes and processes. He became widely known for, in the Loire Valley, as a natural winemaker.
The Pet Nat movement slowly got to people by word of mouth and other wine producers that were close to Chaussard.
In the early 2000’s, Pet Nat Wine made a few pop ups at some wine bars in New York, but the customers who came looking for it were seldom.
It was around 2010 when more Petillant Naturel Wines started to get produced, not only in France, but California and New Zealand. It was capturing so many producers attention because it was this new affordable way to producing bubbly wine.
Within the last few years, Pet Nat Wine has made a name for itself and it is easier now to find someone who is novice on Pet Nat Wines. It has gain popularity among millennials due to being natural, biodynamic, noncorporate, and small-production wine.
Pet Nat is expected to grow even more over the years. Before you know it, everyone will know what Pet Nat Wines are and you won’t have to hear “what is that?”
These wines are not disappearing any time soon!
IS PET NAT WINE JUST LIKE CHAMPAGNE?
Let’s not get Pet Nat confused for being made the same way our other fizzy friend Champagne is made.
Champagne is done in a different method, and undergoes one full completion of fermentation. Then a second fermentation is activated with the addition of yeast and sugar. Champagne is also disgorged and filtered making it clear.
Whereas, Pet Nat Wines only undergo one natural fermentation process and is bottle before fermentation is completed. Pet Nat Wines may or may not be filtered or disgorged, giving the wine a murky look.
HOW TO MAKE PET NAT WINE?
Pet Nat Wine is made by using the oldest method to making sparkling wine called the “Ancestral Method.” The Ancestral Method is a low-expense, but also risky and difficult to control method to producing these sparkling wines.
First step to making a Pet Nat Wine is by taking a base wine that has started a natural fermentation between its sugar and the native yeast from the grape skins.
The wine is left unfiltered and then bottled in the middle of the fermentation process. The completion of the fermentation process will happen in the bottle.
CO2 given off during the fermentation process is trapped and becomes the bubbles in the wine. There is no sugar is added to kick off the second part of the fermentation process.
The wine will only go through one fermentation process. Once the fermentation process is completed, the yeast cells deplete the supply of residual sugar.
There is little to none human intervention with Pet Nat Wines. They are not disgorged to remove any of sediment or lees remaining. Some producers might do a basic disgorgement to stabilize the wine and make it a little more presentable for the purchaser.
When you pick up your next bottle and wonder why it’s cloudy, remember, it is in its least tampered and most natural state.
Robert Vernick, from Wine Terroir, breaks down what Pet Nat means, how it’s made, and shares a couple wine tastings with you:
WHERE CAN I BUY PET NAT WINE?
The best way you can buy Pet Nat Wine is by reaching out to your nearby natural wine bars or boutiques. Walk-in and say the words “Pet Nat” to the salesperson or sommelier, and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about! And TA-DA!
Most of these natural wine bars and boutiques offer monthly wine club memberships with additional perks. If you are interested in trying more of these fizzy drinks, then this a great way to go about it!
If you live in San Diego and are wanting to get your hands on some Pet Nat Wines, then I have just the spots for you!
The first one is VINO CARTA located in the heart of Little Italy. The wine shop carries hundreds of small family-run producers and natural wines from all over the world. Every bottle of wine you pick up at Vino Carta is made through the practice of organic and sustainable farming.
Another spot for my San Diego folks is THE ROSE WINE BAR, located in South Park. It’s a wine bar, bottle shop, and restaurant all in one! (and happens to be my fav!)
The Rose Wine Bar is focused on natural wines made from organically grown native grapes, minimal additives, and ambient yeasts.
Every second Monday of the month, you get to try four new released wines and get their whole story told to you. This is an amazing way to learn more about the Natural Wine World.
Now, let’s head up north! In Oakland, California, you can get your next or first bottle of Pet here at ORDINAIRE WINE.
If you live in Portland, Oregon, a great spot for some Pet Nat Wines is ARDOR NATURAL WINES. This place is constantly rotating and changing their selection of Natural Wines, allowing their customer to become more familiar with small-production wines.
How Much Are Pet Nat Wines?
Good news! Because Pet Nat Wine is inexpensively made, you should never really spend more than $20-$35 per bottle! CHA-CHING. Making your taste buds and your wallet very happy.
Looking at other Natural Wines? You can find any from $20-$150 or more, just as you would with other traditional wines.
Where to Buy Pet Nat Wine Near Me
Here is the wild-goose chase I went on to find my first Pet Nat.
My friend, who lives in the Netherlands, posted a picture of this cloudy orange bottle of wine. I was so confused on what kind of wine he was drinking.
I knew Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, and Pinot Noirs were red. Sauvignon Blancs, Rieslings, and Chardonnays were white wines.
But orange? What was this orangey cloudy wine that he had? I knew I had to figure out what it was and get my hands on one.
Luckily, the label was posted perfectly in the picture. I looked up the wine and it took me to the winery’s website, which lead me to their contact information.
I sent an email to their distribution manager and I said, “I live in San Diego and I am eager to try this wine. Do you distribute your wines anywhere near me?”
And BOOM! I quickly received an email back saying, “Yes, we do. Check out The Rose in South Park.”
Next thing I knew, I was parking my car in their parking lot and got lost in this new world of wine.
HOW TO OPEN PET NAT WINE?
We don’t want the wine to spray, and we DEFINITELY don’t want to waste the wine!
Let it sit standing upright in the refrigerator for a few hours before opening.
When you do this, you are allowing a few things to happen:
First, you are allowing the wine is to chill. Second, this lets the yeast deposits and sediment settle to the bottle of the bottom. Third, this allows the wine to calm if it has been shaken up or disrupted.
Next, you will need to grab a bottle opener and have the wine glasses nearby and ready to go.
Keep the wine bottle facing upright and do your best to NOT shake the bottle. Remember, the wine looks better in the glass, and not on you.
Place the bottle opener to the crown cap and pop it off quickly.
Don’t hesitate here. Get the crown cap off fast! You don’t need to let it hiss or quiet.
Once the crown cap has been removed, pour the wine into the glasses.
Cheers, and ENJOY!
Here is a video from William Chris Vineyards on how to open a Pet Nat Wine bottle:
Should Pet Nat Be Chilled?
All Pet Nat Wines should be chilled. And yes, even if it is a red wine, it should still be chilled.
Pop the wine up-right in your refrigerator for a couple hours. Let’s make sure it is not your wine fridge, too. Your regular refrigerator is set to a cooler temperature than your wine fridge. We want these babies not just cold, but CHILLED.
Another way to do this, is by placing the bottle in an ice bucket for half an hour.
Bottom line, you want your Pet Nat to be chilled for the best flavors.
What Type of Wine Glass Should Pet Nat Be Served In?
Maybe it’s just me, but I can get lost on which wine glass I am suppose to serve for which wine. It can feel a bit overwhelming when you think about the different varieties of wine and wine glasses.
We will make it simple.
Typically, Pet Nat Wine should be served in a Flute Wine Glass. Flute Wine glasses are served with most sparkling wine because they help preserve the bubbles.
Do not let this stop you from using a standard white or red wine glass! Especially if you are someone who wants to swirl and enjoy the aromatics of the wine.
I usually use my Muse White/Red Wine Glass from CB2 when I am having a Pet Nat Wine. This wide-hip silhouette glass brings a pleasing aesthetic to the wine, but also allows me to indulge in the wine’s characteristics.
It is recommended NOT to use a stemless wine glasses for Pet Nats. Your hands will change the temperature of the wine making it warmer and changing the flavors of the wine.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, there are no strict rules with these wines.
There is no wrong wine glass to use!
SOME TIPS FOR DRINKING PET NAT WINES
• Let them sit standing upright in a refrigerator for a few hours. This allows the yeast deposits to settle to the bottom of the bottle.
• Just bought a bottle? These wines are not meant for long term aging. On the contrary, these wines are better consumed within a couple months of purchase. So, grab a friend and drink up!
• Reds deserve to be chilled, too. Pop the reds in the fridge and allow to it to chill. This makes all Pet Nats a perfect summer sip!
• Not sure if it’s a Pet Nat? A crown-styled cap is a good indicator.
• Pet Nat Wines taste better with friends, so don’t drink alone! (or do)
Types of Pet Nat Wines | What Pairs Well With Pet Nats
2019 | Zinfandel | Breaking Bread Winery | Sonoma County | ALC. 11.7% By Vol. | ~$26
Let us take a second to enjoy this funky chicken artwork!
Okay now, this is a sparkling Zinfandel with aromatics and flavors of Passion Fruit and Bing cherry. An easy-drinking wine with lot of fruit forward notes that only continues to grow more complex flavor after opening.
There were only 150 case productions of this wine and 100% fermented with its native yeast.
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, California
FOOD PAIRING: Shellfish, lean fish, appetizers, and snacks.
2019 | Nero Di Troia | Freccianera | Calcarius |ALC.9.5% By Vol. | ~$30
This wine is all about rhubarb, raspberries, and citrus from the nose to the palette. It’s full of berries and will surely quench your thirst on those hot days.
Appellation: Puglia, Italy
2017 | Riesling | Wolke Für Zwei | Salomon-Undhof | ALC. 13% By Vol. | ~$22
You’ll experience some unusual funk to the nose. But you’ll also get notes of citrus and apples. It hits the palette with vanilla and green apples. This wine has crisp bubbles and is light-bodied.
Appellation: Österreichischer Perlwein, Austria.
FOOD PAIRING: Rich and fatty fishy, pork, chicken, or anything with some spice. You can have this wine with some sweet desserts.
2018 | Muscat | La Dona | Los Pilares | ALC. 11.5% By Vol. | ~$26-$31
Let me start off by saying WOW! There is so much to love about this wine. On the nose you’ll get white citrus flowers and apricots. On the palette, you’ll get peach, floral honeysuckle, and hint of grapefruit.
Appellation: San Diego, California
Food Pairing: Try this wine as an aperitif. Or save it for the main meal, and enjoy it with some shellfish or other lean fish.
Books on Pet Nat Wines
If you are wanting to learn even more about Pet Nat Wines, I provided some Natural Wine book recommendations below:
MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON PET NAT WINE
The moment I saw Pet Nat Wines, I was instantly pulled in. I was captivated by the artwork and intrigued by the color. I knew I needed to get my hands on one.
I was accustomed to my standard selection of wines: Merlots, Pinots, and Chardonnays.
But with Pet Nat Wines, I was introduced to this whole other world of wine that I never knew existed. I didn’t know wine could be different hues of oranges, pink, ambers, and reds.
I was able to learn about different types of grapes that are out there, and understand the producers intention and story behind making the wine.
With the rules for these wines being so loose and experimental, every bottle I am getting something unique and exciting.
On top of that, I able to support small businesses and artisanal producers.
So what are YOU waiting for? Grab a few bottles of Pet Nat. Have some friends over. Have a nice dinner. AND indulge!
I know these are the small things that make my heart feel light and happy.
Now, let’s get in on this Natural Wine movement!