Opening a Pet-Nat
Pet-Nats are delightful. They are fun, fizzy, full of fresh fruit flavor. They are the perfect drink for when you don't know what to drink. However, opening a Pet-Nat can be a journey. We have had experiences all over the map. Some Pet-Nats have been a simple crack of the cap and pour, while others have painted our ceiling red. There is something to always leaving them wanting more, but it's a bit much when there is only one delicious glass left in a bottle.
Why Pet-Nats Explode?
Why do Pet-Nats tend to explode, and how do you tell if one will blow upon opening? A lot of the issues tend to stem from sediment that is still in the bottle. If you have ever tried sprinkling salt into a beer or added a strawberry to flat sparkling wine, you would have noticed an immediate release of CO2. A little flash of bubbles. The reason for this is that the gas is in solution, but when a solid is present, it has something to cling to, collect and release.
With a Pet-Nat, we do very little clarification or stabilization before we bottle. As a result, we tend to have a fair amount of tartrate crystals (wine diamonds) form in the bottle. Tartrate crystals are naturally occurring and have the same texture as finely ground salt. Depending on the wine's natural chemistry, we could end up with a significant amount of it in a bottle of Pet-Nat. The tartrates can give the CO2 a lot of surfaces to attach to and release.
How to Open a Pet-Nat
To help answer the question of; how to open a Pet-Nat? We have come up with a simple step-by-step process to quickly chill a room temperature pet-nat and not make a giant mess while opening!
1. Place your bottle of Pet-Nat into a large bowl or ice bucket.
2. Half cover with ice.
3. Generously sprinkle the ice with Table Salt.
4. Cover the rest of the bottle with ice.
5. Generously sprinkle again with Table Salt.
6. Set a timer for 45 minutes and wait.
7. Once the timer goes, it is time to open your bottle and enjoy! I would still keep a glass or two on hand just in case, but you won't experience the same level of gushing.
So what are we doing?
Essentially we are super chilling the wine so that the CO2 stays in solution more effectively. It is an adaptation of a process utilized to disgorge traditional-method sparkling wines. What happens with disgorging is the wine is super chilled, and the bottleneck is frozen. When the bottle cap is opened, the sediment shoots out with the ice plug, and the clarified wine stays in the bottle. The main difference is we are not freezing the neck of the bottle, or removing the sediment.