Your Mini Cheat Sheet For Finding Pét-Nat Wine In The Store

Unpredictable, raw, and bursting with life, pét-nat is like the wild child of the wine world. But despite its recent trendiness, sparkling wine has existed for centuries. Pioneered by French winemaking monks in the 1500s, VinePair shares that pétillant naturel follows an approach called méthode ancestral, where wine is bottled during its first round of fermentation, unlike Champagne. Light, fizzy, and fun, if you've recently fallen in love with the style, but aren't sure how to tell whether a wine is a pét-nat, we've got you covered with a mini cheat sheet.

Generalizing pét-nat can be tricky as styles can vary based on grape varietal, terroir, and vinification choices. The resulting sparkling wines range in color, bubbliness, and flavor. Some may be bone dry, others sweet like candy. Aromas can fall anywhere on the spectrum, from fruity all the way to barnyard. Not to mention that every bottle (even within the same vintage) can taste different since the wine is alive with yeasts.

While their funkiness and low alcohol level make them great to share in a relaxed setting, their wild nature can make any pét-nat a challenge to serve. Best enjoyed soon after bottling, Tank Garage Winery explains that wine should be kept upright somewhere chilly, before gently prying open the cap to avoid an oenological explosion. Before cracking open the naturally bubbly bevy, here's what you need to know when searching for a bottle.

Look for labels, crown caps, and cloudiness

Navigating the world of wine can be overwhelming if you aren't familiar with the jargon. Bottles labeled as "pétillant naturel" or "pét-nat" are a clear indication that you've found what you're looking for. In contrast, Food & Wine shares that some producers might use terms like "methode ancestrale," "bottle fermented" or "col fondo".

When left to rely on aesthetics, how the bottle is sealed and what's inside can also determine whether or not a wine is part of the pét-nat posse. Rather than a cork closure, Club Oenologique confirms that the presence of a crown cap (like the top on an old soda bottle) means that you've probably stumbled upon a pét-nat — that, and the fact that the wine is a bit cloudy or has specks of sentiment, thanks to its old school production method.

Since pét-nats tend to be crafted by independent winemakers, you probably won't see them sitting beside mass-produced wines at the supermarket. Seeking out wine shops and wine bars (or online platforms) that specialize in natural wine is a no-brainer. Not only will the staff be knowledgeable, but you're guaranteed to find what you're looking for, and usually at a fair price. Juiced Wines shares that pét-nat newbies can rejoice in learning that there are lots of quality options within the $30 range. Time to start exploring!