A number of alcoholic drinks can come various forms, specifically there are some that are carbonated, such as ciders; sparkling, such as Champagne; or flat, which is a complete lack of carbonation. Most wines fall under the flat category, and all Champagnes are sparkling wines. That being said, one may prefer a carbonated cider to a flat one, or a carbonated mead, however, force carbonation, unless one knows what they are doing can be a potentially dangerous endeavor. So what if one wanted to carbonate or sparkle their brew safely? That is where Pet Nat comes in, so what is Pet Nat?
Pet Nat, or more accurately spelled Pét-Nat, is an abbreviation for the French term pétillant naturel which more or less translates to 'naturally sparkling' and is the oldest form of carbonation. Not only is it the oldest, it is also much safer than force carbonation. If you have heard of Pet Nat, though, you might think it is a recent trend, but, in fact, it predates even Champagne.
Pet nat is a method of naturally sparkling a wine, mead, or cider. Unlike other natural methods of carbonation where one simply sprinkles a bit of sugar and yeast to produce a miniature fermentation, pet nat is achieved by forgoing the clarification process, in other words, it is bottled right just before fermentation is finished.
While it seems like a simple technique, it is actually a bit more technical than it lets off. Bottling it too early can lead to too much pressure building up, thus, running the risk of having a bottle bomb. Bottling it too late can lead to the yeast having eaten all the sugar, thus, leaving behind a flat beverage.
Because pet nat does not use additional yeast or sugar, like Champagne does, these particular drinks tend to be low-sugar so it is a good choice for those watching their sugar intake.
Are there any other advantages to drink pet nat as opposed to other sparkling drinks? For one thing, pet nat drinks tend to be more affordable because no other special method has been employed. Also, pet nat tend to be drank quite young, so you would not be paying the luxury tax of a drink having been aged.
So, ultimately, what does a pet nat taste like? Regardless of the fruit or juice used to create the pet nat, and while the end product tends to be a bit unpredictable, it has a light and fuzzy taste and are usually a bit sweet despite having being low-sugar. Because it has not been disgorged unlike other traditional wines, pet nats tend to be on the cloudy side because of the presence of lees and a lack of filtration. Overall, a pet nat is rustic and lively wine whose flavors are reflective of its terroir.
Pet nat is a very tempting technique to learn, so if you wish to learn how to naturally sparkle your wine, mead, or cider, it is highly recommended to learn the proper steps through diligent research.