Naturally Sparkling Wine: this year's buzziest wine trend
Natural wine is having a major moment and I’m pretty pumped! As someone who incorporates healthy practices into my daily routine, drinking natural wine, was a natural step for me. Natural wine isn’t new but it is newly popular, so I want to write about my most favorite thing to come out of the natural wine movement. Pétillant Naturel, French for naturally sparkling, or pét nat, as they are more commonly referred to, is taking the wine scene by storm. As a certified sommelier, I studied wine history, classic wine regions and traditional winemaking practices but natural wine was basically skipped over. After two years of wine courses, I made it my mission to start learning (and tasting) as much as I could about natural wines. While there is so much to cover, lets start with pét nat.
You know those neon colored wines topped with an aluminum soda cap that you’re seeing all over your Instagram feed, those are pét nat wines. Pét nat isn’t new, it dates back to Limoux, France in 1531, but they’ve skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years. You’re probably wondering, why aren’t these wines called champagne or prosecco? There are so many different sparkling wines around the world - champagne, cava, crémant, franciacorta, lambrusco, prosecco, etc - and so many different methods for creating a sparkling wine. The names come from the country they’re made in or the specific style, and the two most common methods to create a sparkling wine are:
Champagne/Traditional method aka méthode traditionelle
Tank method aka charmat method
Both of those methods create sparkling wine by adding a liqueur de tirage, which is a mixture of sugar, yeast and wine, either into the wine bottle (traditional) or fermentation tank (charmat) to kick start the secondary fermentation of the wine, which is what creates the bubbles. Super technical, I know - but necessary to understand if you want to know what makes a pét nat special.
Pét nat is made by the ancestral method, which stops the first fermentation early (when grape juice is being made into a still wine) and places the wine in a bottle, capping it off. Since fermentation never finished, there’s leftover natural yeast and sugar in the bottle that has not yet fermented into alcohol, creating a naturally sparkling wine. Most of these wines are not filtered before bottling and usually have a cloudy look to them. You might even find some yeast particles floating around the bottle, but not to worry they are completely safe to drink!
These wines are often fruit forward, relatively low in alcohol (9-12% ABV) and dangerously easy to sip on. While they’re perfect for a hot summer day (move over Rosé!), they’re also an amazing wine to pop open when watching a movie on the couch or having a casual weekend gathering. They’re easy drinking, refreshing and don’t give you the sugar headache that normally accompanies Sunday brunch filled with endless mimosas.
While its easy to obtain natural wines in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, the rest of the country can struggle to find any natural wine - which is why I’ve partnered with Primal Wine. Primal Wine is an online marketplace offering a large variety of natural wine (not just delicious pét nat sparklers but still wines as well) and delivers directly to your doorstep.
You can receive 15% off your first order on Primal Wine by using Promo Code “jenna15”.
I sampled nine different pét nats through Primal Wine and have tasting notes for all nine, as well as links to purchase below. Note: while I may use words like “jolly rancher” to describe these wines, they are all dry wines and the sweetness comes from the fruit and ripeness of the grapes. None of these wines are sweet! I put asterisks next to my favorites.
Smells like overripe plums, juicy bing cherries & clementines. Tastes like a sour cherry jolly rancher, leaving your mouth full of ripe raspberries. It has relatively large bubbles, felt like a fully sparkling wine.
100% Mourvedre | Sierra Foothills, California | 11.5% ABV
Smells like peak season cranberries with a distinct wet slate note. and according to my brother, who bakes A LOT of bread, it “smells like sourdough at peak rise”. It tastes like gooseberries mixed with overripe wild strawberries and finishes with rose petals. It’s lightly fizzy with tiny bubbles.
100% Nero d’Avola | Sicily, Italy | 12% ABV
Smells like juicy sour cherries and has a slight citronella note. Tastes super fruit forward with ripe wild strawberries and bright lemon juice, finishes leaving your mouth tasting like a sour cherry gummy.
Made from a blend of organic grapes grown in Lazio, Central Italy. There are more than 200 indigenous grapes in the area and some of their most popular red varietals are Sangiovese, Cesanese, Aleatico Montepulciano and Nero Buono di Cori | 11.5% ABV
This lightly effervescent wine smells like a freshly zested lemon peel and tastes likes like a ripe stone fruit. It finishes with a bursting note of grapefruit and orange.
100% Muscat a Petit Grains | Mclaren Vale, Australian | 13% ABV
Lightly fizzy wine smells like cinnamon peach cobbler and tastes like a juicy, peak season red grapefruit and is almost apple cideresque.
100% Grenache | Mclaren Vale, Australia | 13% ABV
Smells like ripe summertime watermelon sliced open by the pool with grapefruit juice squeezed on top. Tastes like wild strawberries, both sweet and tart and finishes with bright lemon zest.
100% Carignan | Mendocino County, California
Smells like toasted almonds and tart yellow apples. Tastes like lemon meringue and ripe pear with a hint of lilac as it finishes.
100% Chenin Blanc | Vouvray, Loire Valley, France | 12% ABV
Smells chamomile tea drizzled with sweet honey with some lingering minerality. Tastes like a crisp yellow apple covered in grated lemon and finishes with an slightly herbal note.
Smells like juicy ripe yellow pears & fresh baked sourdough drizzled in honey. Tastes like golden apples maple apples and meyer lemon rind finishing with a crispness and mild bubbles to refresh your palate.
100% Albariño | Napa, California | 11.5% ABV