Rosé, rosé, rosé — all day. It seems like everyone is obsessed with it. Make no mistake — we absolutely adore the pink stuff (we’ve set out to learn everything there is to know about it, after all!) but the wine world is vast, and we’ve been hearing a lot about pét-nat through the grapevine (sorry, we had to). It’s got a cute name, it’s fizzy, and producers are popping up everywhere, which means it’s fun, easy to drink, and affordable. Check, check, and check. To get the low-down on this au-natural sparkling wine, we chatted with Sebastien Auvet, co-founder of Vin Sur Vingt, the tres delicious wine bar with four locations in Manhattan.
Brit + Co: First things first — what is pét-nat, exactly?
Sebastien Auvet: Pét-Nat is a hot trend in the wine industry right now. I watched it become popular in France in the ’90s, and now I’m seeing it everywhere! Pétillant naturel wines — pét-nat for short — are fizzy, natural wines produced in the méthod ancestrale, or ancestral method. The wine is bottled before fully completing its first fermentation, which allows carbon dioxide to be produced by the grapes’ natural sugars. After it’s bottled, a second fermentation begins. It’s an easy process on paper, but it can be difficult, and timing is key. When you drink pét-nat, you can expect a wine with low alcohol, some funk on the nose and fizz, not bubbles.
B+C: How fun! What makes a wine natural, then?
SA: It all comes down to philosophy — you have to believe in the ecosystem, and not forget that “what goes around comes around.” The same goes for wine. Natural wines are made with the least possible use of additives or technology. Winemakers will try to produce the best expression of the region’s terroir by using the same process as organic wines, without pesticides or other chemicals. They’ll also harvest manually by hand and try not to interfere during the fermentation process.
B+C: Fewer additives sounds like a good thing to us! Any other awesome reasons to drink natural wine? And any things to watch out for?
SA: Most often, when you open any bottle of natural wine, you’ll immediately smell the region’s terroir. Another differentiator is oxidation, often common in natural wines — it’s better to open up a natural wine bottle just a few minutes before drinking to get the real expression of the wine.
One of the benefits of natural wine is that you’re getting the best expression of the region’s terroir in your glass. One could even say the process of creating natural wines helps to preserve terroir. On the downside, some wines without sulfites can taste funky, as stability is often an issue. Oxidated wines can turn people off, so if you don’t like the wine you are drinking, try a different one.
B+C: Any advice for choosing a bottle? Do you have any favorites to recommend?
SA: I like to tell people to look at the back label to find a reputable importer company name. I recommend Avant Garde Imports, Zev Rovine Selections, Savio, VOS Selections, Wine Mc² Selection, and Jenny and Francois Selections for great natural wine offerings.
My favorite bottles are Six Roses La Porte Saint-jean Sylvain Diitière, Domaine de Bellevue Billes de Quartz, Domaine de Montrieux Boisson Rouge, Autour de l’Anne Wonder Womanne, and Bartucci Cerdon de Buge.
Have you tried pét-nat wine? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what you think!
(Photo via Getty)