What is Pet-Nat Wine and Why should I Care About It?
The term Pet-Nat (aka Methode ancestral) originates in the motherland of wine- France. It means "natural sparkling," more or less, so…Natural Sparkling Wine. The main difference between traditional sparkling wine (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava) and Pet-Nat is in the winemaking.
Traditional sparkling wines undergo a second fermentation after being bottled, where yeast, nutrients, and sugar are added, which produces the bubbles. Pet-nat's are bottled while the wine is going through its initial fermentation, the bubbles occurring naturally without a second fermentation.
The first champagnes were an accident and actually made in a “Pet-nat” style- they only underwent a single fermentation. In the 1800s, wines were cellared for aging in Champagne to compete with the wines from Burgundy. They didn't realize that in the winter, their colder cellars stopped fermentation altogether. When the spring rolled around, fermentation started again and produced bubbles.
Another difference between Pet-Nat and traditional sparklers is the grapes used to produce the wines. For instance, Champagnes are always made from a combination of three grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier). At the same time, Italy's famous sparkler Prosecco is borne of the Glera grape. Those making Pet-nat sparklers are not bound to tradition and are making wines from different grapes and combinations of grapes.
And so, the end product can be somewhat like life- unpredictable, but a fun surprise to be savored in the moment if you’re open to it. And being open to new things is what life’s all about. Otherwise, you’ve got nothing to talk about in the locker room.