Pet-Nat: The Unconventional Petillant Naturel Wine You Need to Try

Pet-Nat: The Unconventional Petillant Naturel Wine You Need to Try

Staff Writer |

No drink brings dinner together like a glass of wine, but the choice of wine can leave the table divided. Some prefer their reds.  Others swear by a dry white, while some won’t settle for anything less than a refreshing rosé.

The latest addition to this vast menu is the sparkling wine, Pét-Nat. 

Pét-Nat is short for Pétillant Naturel, which in French means naturally sparkling. It tastes similar to champagne, but is more affordable, and contains a lower alcohol percentage — all factors that make it a favorite among younger generations. In addition, it does not require added yeasts or sugars, it doesn’t need expensive grapes, and it doesn’t need to be aged. 

These factors perfectly tie in with Usual Wines’ philosophy of simplicity and ethical sourcing. 

Intrigued yet? 

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the natural wine that’s been flooding the market in the last few years — how it’s made, where to buy it, and what food to serve with it. Let’s take a closer look.  

How Is Pét-Nat Made?

How Is Pét-Nat Made?

Pét-Nat is actually a method of making sparkling wine, rather than simply a type of wine. The beverage is made through a process called the “méthod ancestrale” or ancestral method. During this technique, wine is bottled even as it is fermenting, trapping carbon dioxide, and creating carbonation.  

Most other sparkling wines, like champagne, are made through the “champagne method.” These wines are fermented in a large batch first, then bottled with additional yeast and sugars during a second round of fermentation, while Pét-Nat is bottled before it has completed fermentation so that the bubbles are created naturally, with no added ingredients. Some sparkling wines even pump the bubbles into the wine after they’re bottled.

Pét-Nat is made with either red or white grapes, sometimes even combining them. This method of wine-making leaves a lot of room for creativity, with makers around the world experimenting with a wide variety of flavor profiles.

What Makes Pét-Nat Different From Other Bubbly Wines?

Since the ancestral method requires no additional sugars or yeast, and the wine doesn’t go through a filtering process, Pét-Nat is considered more “natural” than other sweet wines that require more human intervention and longer aging processes.

The lack of filtration also gives it a more cloudy appearance, leaving it with sediment that settles at the bottom. This sediment, made up of yeast from the fermentation, can either be mixed into the wine, or filtered out when pouring.

Because Pét-Nat is only fermented once, it has an alcohol content of 11% to 12%, much lower than sparkling wines like champagne. This gives it characteristic gentle bubbles, making it less fizzy than alternatives, and one of the best wines for beginners.

The ancestral method gives us a wine that’s more affordable and unpredictable to make. It relies heavily on the skill of the winemaker who must balance the level of fermentation with the right flavors.   

Shelf-Life and Storage  

pet nat wine

Unlike champagne, Pét-Nat isn’t meant to be aged. Don’t bother storing it in your cellar, or refrigerating it for too long. The bottles should be kept upright at all times to prevent the sediment from disproportionately pouring into one glass. When it’s poured out all at once, the sediment remains at the bottom, giving the wine a smoother flavor.

Since Pét-Nats are best drunk fresh and shouldn’t be stored for very long, it is an excellent single-serve wine.

If you’re not ready to take the plunge into Pét-Nats or can’t find any near you, you can find a good mix of small bottles of champagne with no additives in Usual Wine’s mixed pack, a collection of 12 or 24 bottles that features some of California’s best wines, including a brut rosé, a white, and classy red, delivered right to your door. 

What Does Pét-Nat Go Best With?

Pét-Nat goes exceptionally well with lighter dishes or canapés. It also pairs excellently with seafood, and anything deep-fried and salty. So, the next time you’re planning on serving up oysters, sushi, or fried chicken, try a Pét-Nat, or go classic with small bottles of champagne.

Its low alcohol content makes it the perfect drink for early evening, or Sunday brunch, (or even a sneaky breakfast mimosa). It contains less sugar than prosecco and is often more affordable than other options. 

This makes it a healthier option that’s great for making an impression at any dinner party without the exorbitant price tag.  

Some Popular Pét-Nats To Try 

There are several differences between Pét-Nat and other sparkling wines, but that doesn’t mean that all Pét-Nats are the same either. This sparkling wine can be a red, a white, or a rosé. It can also be made from dozens of different grape blends and may include several fruit profiles so no Pét-Nat is like another. It is a fun and playful wine because of this freedom.

They can also differ in levels of fizziness, the amount of sediment they leave behind, and shelf-life, but generally speaking, they should be consumed within three months of purchasing. Here are our picks of some Pét Nats to try: 

Donkey & Goat Winery, Berkeley 

An excellent wine for summer, Donkey & Goat Winery’s Lily's Pét Nat Sparkling Chardonnay works for brunches, picnics, beach days, and any kind of outdoor activity. Made from chardonnay grapes from Anderson Valley, it’s known for its shocking fruit flavors, with hints of acidity that cleanse the palate and match any meal from caviar to fried chicken. 

Touraine, Loire Valley

The home of Pét Nat Wines, Loire Valley naturally has some of the best sparkling wines in the world. The Les Pieds Rôtis Pétillant Naturel by Touraine is a fine choice if you’re looking for a refreshing Chenin Blanc. With its fruity aroma and hint of spice, it pairs perfectly with seafood, grilled mango, and roasted sweet potato. 

Day Wines, Oregon 

In 2022, Day Wines created Mamacita, a Pét Nat with an exotic touch. This wine is made with a blend of Vermentino and Muscat grapes. Its highly aromatic key lime as well as touches of cardamom and saffron give it a distinguished taste that’s all its own. It’s best paired with small plates and seafood dishes. 

William Chris Vineyards, Texas 

A cloudier Pét Nat than the others on this list, this Texas-born rosé could easily be confused for watermelon juice. But its taste adds a few more fruits into the mix — with pink grapefruit, strawberry, and tart cherry, coming together to create a complex and delicious wine.  

Pet Nat Wine

Conclusion: Give Pet Nat Wine a Try

The Pét Nat is not a new creation. After all, the French have been drinking it for hundreds of years. Its sudden rise in global popularity has amateur connoisseurs taking notice. With its wide range of flavors, unique blends of grapes, and friendly price point, the Pét-Nat is a must-try for anyone looking for something new. 

Moreover, its commitment to minimal intervention as well as the absence of added sugars, flavorings, colors, and concentrates offer a refreshing take on the wine-making process. California’s Usual Wines is similarly committed to creating wines that are simple and free of any artificial additives. Unfortunately, we don’t have our own Pét Nat yet, but try out our delightful sparkling brut for a sparkling, crisp, and refreshing experience.