Pét-nat is an abbreviation for "pétillant naturel"—a French term that roughly translates to "naturally sparkling."
Maybe you already knew that. After all, pét-nat has been hip for a few years now; all the cool kids are drinking it. But even if you've sampled a few bottles of the stuff, you'd be forgiven for not knowing exactly what qualifies as pét-nat, or how these sparkling wines differ from other types of bubbly.
How Pét-Nats Are Made?
"Pét-nat is a wilder version of a sparkling wine like Champagne," says Jared Brandt, owner of Berkeley, California's Donkey & Goat Winery, which has produced pét-nat since 2010. "When people ask, I tell them pét-nat is a wine that we bottle during initial fermentation, and the sugars from the grapes provide the bubbles."
As you may know, during alcohol fermentation, yeasts eat sugar. The byproducts of this process are alcohol and carbon dioxide. In non-sparkling wines—your Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, etc.—most or all fermentation occurs before bottling, so there is no trapped C02, and therefore no bubbles.