You might have seen Pét-Nat on your social media feed, as the growing craze for this delicious sparkling wine is sweeping the globe. It's a delicious, sweet wine filled with all of the bubbles that you enjoy from a bottle of champagne without the hefty price tag. It's gorgeous and trendy, but most of all: it's tasty! This year, consider giving it a try if you haven't already.
When people describe Pét-Nats, they typically compare it to champagne. However, the Pét-Nat vs champagne debate isn't often one that's broken down. So what exactly is it that makes Pét-Nat different from champagne? Let's start with the basics.
What is Pét-Nat?
Before we get into the Pét-Nat vs champagne dilemma, it's first important to understand what exactly Pét-Nat is. The term "Pét-Nat" derives from "pétillant naturel", which is a single-fermentation method of making sparkling wine. "Pétillant naturel" translates to "naturally sparkling," which is where these wines get their name!
So, what's so different about this wine-making process from champagne?
While the Pét-Nat vs champagne debate is still strong, it's important to note a few key differences between the two.
One of the most important but also most overlooked aspects of Pét-Nat vs champagne is simply the region of origin. You may not know this, but if a sparkling wine wishes to call itself champagne, then it must originate from the Champagne region in France. There are other sparkling wines available, but none of them can authentically call themselves champagne except for those produced in the Champagne region. Even if a Pét-Nat was similar to champagne in every other way, it still wouldn't be champagne.
The biggest difference between Pét-Nat vs champagne is the fermentation process. Pét-Nat is only fermented one time, while champagne is fermented twice.
What essentially occurs is that when Pét-Nat begins its fermentation process, it's started in a tank, but then is moved into individual glass bottles to finish the process. Each of these bottles is capped with a crown cap like you'd see on a beer bottle or a glass soda bottle.
As the fermentation process progresses, the carbon dioxide in the yeast continues to build up in the bottle, giving the Pét-Nat the sparkling bubbles it's so well-known for. In short, what this means is that Pét-Nat is bottled before it gets its bubbles!
Champagne, on the other hand, goes through a full fermentation process before it's bottled. While it's still in the tanks, it goes through a primary fermentation. Once the primary fermentation completes, then sugar is added to the mix, allowing for a secondary fermentation.
After the fermentation process is complete, you're going to be left with two completely different products when comparing Pét-Nat vs champagne. While they are both sparkling wines, Pét-Nat and champagne have very different flavour profiles.
You may be surprised, but producing Pét-Nat is actually pretty risky! Because the fermentation process happens entirely in the bottle, there's no real gauge or guarantee that it's going to come out exactly how you want. There's no way for the winemakers to be able to taste-test the product before it goes into the bottles since no full fermentation has taken place. Because of this, many winemakers tend to have a vague idea of what the Pét-Nat will taste like because of what's put into it, but they don't know the final product's taste until the fermentation is complete.
In contrast, there's a very precise, formulated process of how champagne is fermented and bottled. After the first fermentation, the winemakers can taste the still wine and adjust for taste if need be. Afterwards, they put in the sugar and other ingredients for the second fermentation.
As a result, champagne tends to have a very even, predictable taste. The winemakers know what's coming in the process, so they're able to make determinations before the second fermentation to see if it needs anything additional.
As previously stated, Pét-Nat completes its fermentation process in the bottle that it's eventually sold in. Champagne, on the other hand, is not the same.
Because champagne tends to be extremely bubbly and pressurized, the bottle to store champagne needs to be a heavy glass bottle so that the pressure inside doesn't cause it to explode. The heavy cork and cage on the bottle serve the same purpose: to ensure that the champagne bottle doesn't explode because of the immense pressure.
Pét-Nat is slightly different. While it does finish its fermentation process in the original bottle, it does not become as highly pressurized. This is because the fermentation process is started in a tank and finished in the bottle, while champagne is fermented once in a tank and then again in the bottle.
Because of this, Pét-Nat can have a crown cap—like a beer or soda—without the risk of explosion. That may sound extreme for a bottle of wine, but the satisfying "pop" when you open Pét-Nat or champagne is part of its charm!
You might be surprised to learn that Pét-Nat is not nearly as expensive as champagne. A good bottle of champagne can run you into the hundreds of dollars, while a nice Pét-Nat is much more affordable. You'll be able to have a much nicer Pét-Nat for the same price as a bottle of cheaper champagne.
At Traynor Vineyard, you'll have your choice of different Pét-Nats, ranging in price anywhere from $9 - $20, and that's an amazing deal! Treat yourself to quality wine this year.
Traynor Vineyard is proud to offer a wide range of delicious Pét-Nat sparkling wines, and you are even able to buy Pét-Nat wine online through our website! We are committed to bringing you the highest quality and most delicious sparkling wine possible, made right here in our Prince Edward County winery.