The Romantic History of Pet Nat

The Romantic History of Pet Nat

When something old becomes new again, being rediscovered, we feel a greater connection to the past; it's romantic. Pet Nats have had a resurgence in a big way in the wine world in recent years, and what's more, Pet Nats are beyond romantic. They're extroverted: playful, bright, and energetic. They like the company of others and sit assuredly next to a meal.

But let's back up here and take it from the top. What exactly is a Pet Nat, or Pétillant Natural? What makes them unique, and why do we want to drink them?

The term Pet Nat, method, and origin are rooted in France, and when translated to English, simply means "Natural bubbles." Pet Nats are bottled young before the primary fermentation is complete. This method is the original way of making a fermented sparkling beverage and is sometimes referred to as "méthode ancestrale." We can thank Pet Nats for being the precursor to Champagne, Prosecco, sparkling cider, and pretty much any carbonated beverage you can name.

Pet Nats have a sediment at the bottom of the bottle called lees. This sediment is the result of the yeast that completed fermentation in the bottle and then settled to the bottom. You may see varying amounts of this at the bottom of your bottle of Pet Nat. It's up to the drinker to decide if they want to partake in the consumption of this part of the drink: some adore it for the creamy element it adds and even shake it before opening. Others proclaim "yuck" and spend many deliberate moments, eyes level with the bottle, tipping ever so slowly to extract as much of the unadulterated nectar as possible. The choice is always in the drinker's hands, and we applaud them however they wish to enjoy their Pet Nat.

What's fun about Pet Nats? It's a step into the unknown. Since the cider is bottled before it has completed fermentation, it changes A LOT! When it is bottled, it's a few steps sweeter than the end product will be. Soon, the yeast starts converting that bit of sugar from the fruit into more alcohol and carbon dioxide, and viola! Fresh BUBBLES, a bit less sweetness, and a trajectory of flavor that is yours to discover. Most carbonated beverages are designed to stay relatively the same the moment they're released into the market, especially in the US. Of course, some age and have 'peak' windows to consume them. Over time, those flavor fluctuations happen slower and slower. With Pet Nats, you're at the starting line of tannins rapidly mellowing, interactions with the lees in the bottle that can turn something sharp or angular into something that is smooth, subtle, and refined. The same Pet Nat you had earlier this year at your spring picnic, although the same product and vintage, may have changed considerably by the time you bring it to Thanksgiving dinner.

Today, making Pet Nats is an intentional process aimed at conserving aroma, fruity flavors, and tiny bubbles. Both wine and cider offerings of Pet Nats are increasingly popular on shelves, and we couldn't be happier to see and be part of this tiny bubble invasion. It's time to get playful with bubbles: grab a Pet Nat made with apples, experiment with cheeses, buy unacceptable amounts of oysters, get baking, be a proud and creative progenitor of the Pet Nat lineage.

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