Instruction movie on how to open a Pet Nat bottle at the bottom of this page
Pétillant Naturel (Pét.Nat.)
Pétillant Naturel or “Pét.Nat.” is a sparkling or light sparkling wine. It is made according to the so-called “Ancestral method” whereby the fermenting wine is bottled in pressure-resistant sparkling wine bottles and finishes the fermentation in the bottle, thereby creating fizz. Most Pét.Nat.s are slightly sparkling with about 2,5 to 3 bar pressure, similar to a Prosecco, and are bottled when the fermenting wine reaches a density of just above 1000. Others have more pressure, especially when heavy in sediments and “hidden” sugars or with higher concentrations of dissolved CO2 during fermentation. Some PétNats can have a pressure of to up to 7 or even 8 bar, higher than your any ordinary Champagne.
Cloudy and fresh
PétNats are usually not filtered and remain cloudy in the bottle. Most producers commercialize their PétNat with the initial crown-cork and sometimes heavy sediments that would precipitate to the bottom of the bottle. It does not harm anyone, but one at times needs to get used to these looks. PétNat usually tastes very fresh, fruity and because of the presence of dead yeast-cells and fruit sediments often quite creamy. Most PétNats do not contain high levels of SO2, otherwise the bottle fermentation would not work!
Use your thumb
Carefully and always with a clean thumb used to forcefully cover the bottleneck after taking off the crown capsule! Think about the bottle in terms of a pressure cooker, where you have to get the pressure out carefully. Because a lot of sediments are usually found in PétNat, it is MUCH more likely that a lot of foam is being produced. If you do not let the pressure go slowly, you may lose a large part of the content and make a mess.
According to taste, one may let these sediments precipitate on the bottom of the bottle and serve the “clean” PétNat. One may as well try to disgorge the bottle à la volé, after putting it on its head for a couple of hours or days, so as to let all sediments precipitate in the bottle neck; one then slowly turns the bottle upright and opens the crowncork in the exact moment when the airbubble inside the bottle hits the bottle neck and thus ejects the sediments. Be careful not to hurt anyone or make a huge mess in case of high pressure inside the bottle.
You may as well turn the bottle carefully before opening so as to homogenize these sediments, giving the wine a cloudy aspect. Again, open the crown cork steadyly to let the pressure go, or open it at once and put a thumb on the closure and depressurize the bottle carefully.