Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. While the phrase commonly refers to champagne, EU countries legally reserve that term for products exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is usually either white or rosé, but there are examples of red sparkling wines. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry brut styles to sweeter doux varieties (French for ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, respectively).
The sparkling quality of these wines comes from its carbon dioxide content and may be the result of natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the traditional method, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of simple carbon dioxide injection in some cheaper sparkling wines.
Pet-Nat is produced in the ‘methode ancestral’, otherwise known as “rurale,” “artisanale,” or “gaillacoise.” Long story short, the wine is bottled prior to fully completing its first fermentation, allowing carbon dioxide to be produced by the natural sugars found in the grapes. When you open a pét-nat, on the other hand, you’re drinking something raw and unpolished, with about half the pressure of Champagne. You can’t quite predict what you’re getting. And that’s part of the point. The refreshing, spontaneous style is just the thing for summer.