This week on All the Swirl, one of our summer interns at Charles Communications Associates describes the latest rage in bubbly that everyone is raving about: pet nat. Sam Foxworthy is a student of Wine & Viticulture, with a minor in Agricultural Business, at CalPoly in San Luis Obispo. Her passion for wine developed from her father's enthusiasm for all things food and wine and their regular trips to California's wine regions. She takes a special interest in the business side of the food and beverage industry, but would also like to explore the scientific side of wine production. CCA has a vigorous and fun intern program that aligns with college semesters. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the universal rise of ‘foodie’ culture, we’ve witnessed the arrival of craft beer enthusiasts, food truck followers, and juice bar lovers. Amid these enduring trends, the name pet nat is gaining the attention of the wine community. Short for petillant naturel, pet nat is a longstanding (if accidental) French sparkling wine. Today it receives praise for its natural rudiments and hands off style of production.
Most sparkling wines undergo two fermentations: the first to convert grape juice into wine, and the second to produce carbon dioxide and therefore, effervescence. Pet-nat, on the other hand, is bottled before it completes primary fermentation, leaving naturally occurring wild yeasts to complete secondary fermentation within the bottle. Unlike sparkling wine, pet nats do not require additives such as sulfur dioxide or synthetic yeast; wild yeast from the vineyard is simply left to do its job, yielding an unfiltered, pinked, and cloudy sparkling wine. At first pet nat was considered to be of lower quality, and as such it was mostly drunk amongst winemakers during the hot summer months – a refreshing beverage to fuel them during their labors.
But what about pet nat—a traditional, rustic wine—has sparked such buzz? Within the food movement, there is increasing demand for organic or ‘natural’ products. Because pet nat is not filtered it does not require fining agents or additives. Typically, these agents are non-vegetarian, as they often consist of animal based proteins that serve to to precipitate small particles out of the wine, thereby clarifying the wine. As such, pet nat’s ‘natural,’ vegan angle is a major selling point amongst young wine enthusiasts seeking a fresh, animal friendly product.
Another aspect of pet nat’s impending success is its bubbles. After all, brunch season is upon us. I can’t wake up on a Sunday morning without hearing the words ‘bottomless mimosas.’ Sparkling wine is straying away from strictly celebratory occasions and finding its way into weekly rituals, something I fully support. I am, after all, a Millennial: we excel at finding a reason to celebrate, whether it be finishing a school term, getting off work on a Thursday night, or receiving a biweekly paycheck. The growing abundance of inexpensive bubbly options makes it hard to not to. Now that I’ve presented an argument for how ‘Generation Me’ is spawning an age of heavy imbibers, we can move onto the bigger picture…Kidding! All in moderation, of course.
And if there’s one kind of bubbly that Millennials love best, it’s pink. Perhaps because pink wines generally have subtle tannins, a fruity finish, and a tart kick. We go wild for rosé, but the race to find new and ‘undiscovered’ varietals has driven some of us to look toward the birthplace of bubbles: France. The typical bottle cap instead of cork trend that pet nat producers embrace is also a not-so-new, but nonetheless hip look that catches the eye.
Wine bars and bottle shops have embraced the pet nat craze. Many local San Franciscan wine bars have featured pet nat tastings in addition to other low sulfur, organic wines. Flatiron Wines, located in the Financial District, featured a public tasting with several petillant naturel varieties and organic reds, poured and narrated by wine distributor Zev Rovine. Additionally, the casual and trendy Oakland wine bar: The Punchdown, a major proponent of organic, sustainable, and minimal intervention wines has also offered exclusive pet nat tastings and events. And at the opposite side of the wine pipeline, winemakers seem to love producing pet nat just as much as we love drinking it. Winemakers love the creativity that pet nats allow, each bottle being a unique concoction, one that displays the producer's personality and methods.
Whether pet nat is a trend to stay or a fad to fade, its simplicity and subtle headiness make for a refreshing summertime beverage. Pet nats pair well with light, fried foods, pastas, and salad dishes; also making a great base for any mimosa-styled drink, grapefruit juice being a favorite. The funky and rustic elements that have given beer and cider popularity are the same qualities that make pet nats a likely addition to the microbrew and cider rage. Keep an eye for this season’s favorite. At only $15-$30 a bottle, it's a mild price for a great reward. Some of our favorites are:
- Onward Malvasia Bianca Pet Nat, Suisun Valley, CA - $29 (made by a dear friend and former CCA intern Faith Armstrong!)
- Domaine La Grange Tiphaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Nouveau Nez, the Loire, France - $25
- Salinia Wine Co. Twenty Five Reasons, Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino, CA - $21
- Cruse Wine Co. Valdiguié, Petaluma, CA - $25
- Donkey & Goat Lily’s Cuvée Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, CA - $28
- Jean-Pierre Robinot L’Opéra des Vins Les Anées Folles, Pineau d’Aunis and Chenin Blanc, the Loire, France $27 -
Now go embrace summer and drink up! Cin cin!
All the Swirl is a collections of thoughts and opinions assembled by the staff and industry friends of Charles Communications Associates, a marketing communications firm with its headquarters in San Francisco, California. We invite you to explore more about our company and clients by visiting www.charlescomm.com.