The Champagne shortage may be looming, but there's no need to panic. Of all the many other sparkling wines out there, one worth getting excited about right now is the delightfully named pét-nat. Long the fizzy favorite of hip wine kids the world over, pét-nat wines (short for pétillant naturel, also known as methode ancestrale) are naturally sparkling: Their bubbles come from fermentation in the bottle, a process that traps the carbon dioxide and yields soft, creamy bubbles instead of a frothier mousse. Throw in the kiss of sweetness and the fresh fruit notes that tend to dominate these styles, and you’ve got a wine fit to serve any time of day.
Don’t worry about crossing the Atlantic to find one of these bottles, either. Pét-nat’s down-to-earth versatility as a Champagne alternative means more and more restaurants are keen to offer it: NYC darlings from Franny’s to Wildair are hot on the stuff, and Bay Area faves like Ordinaire and Nopa are proud to offer Californian interpretations alongside old world classics.
Bonus: Lower ABV is often a result of the pét-nat process, meaning you and your crew can crush a bottle before noon and still have the energy for whatever adventures might follow.
Photo courtesy of Donkey & Goat.
Sunshine in a bottle, plain and simple. From 100% Chardonnay grapes farmed in the Anderson Valley, this happy little bottle of fizzy goodness is vibrant and fresh, the antithesis of that old buttery Chardonnay trope. Proprietors Tracey and Jared Brandt learned their craft from the beloved Rhône winemaker Eric Texier, and their old world training gives itself away in Lily’s Cuvée. Named for the winemakers’ daughter, the wine is perfect for a BYOB (bring your own bagels) brunch as you sip a glass at their urban winery in Berkeley.
Any wine named “The Crazy Years” is worth a taste, and this blend of Chenin Blanc and native Pineau d’Aunis is worthy of its moniker. Jean-Pierre Robinot is a cult producer in the wilds of Jasnières in the Northern Loire Valley, turning out bold expressions of old-vine native grapes. Wild, rustic and out-of-the-box, it’s at-once mineral, herbal and delicate, the perfect foil to rich and savory brunch fare.
Photo courtesy of Winelandia.
"Bi Fri" (say: be free!) hails from Lambrusco country, but red fizz this is not. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Trebbiano, it’s like the freshest glass of lemonade you’ve ever had, with a laser-sharp mineral kick. Appropriately so, too, because the guy responsible for this punchy and citrus-driven wine is a champion Muay Thai fighter. Slake your summer thirst alongside the smoked salmon and goat cheese crostini at June in Brooklyn, where you can find Bi Fri by the glass.
Pack this pink stuff in your picnic basket and never look back. From the Eastern French countryside of Savoie, this blend of Gamay and the rare grape Poulsard drinks like a mouthful of perfectly ripe raspberries. It’s gorgeous on its own, but it makes for a surprising pairing with heartier salty brunch delights like duck hash and, of course, bacon. Drink like a local and skip the flutes; you’ll want it by the cupful, anyway.
Photo courtesy of Onward.
Mediterranean mainstay Malvasia Bianca gets the West Coast treatment in this fresh and floral sparkler from Napa Valley superstar Faith Armstrong Foster. White spice, orange blossom and citrus peel dominate for a heady and complex expression well-suited for an eggy brunch dish like shakshuka.
Refined, elegant and nuanced, this Dolomite treasure stays true to its humble country roots with a wild orchard expression and the finest fizz this side of the Po. It’s tempting to nickname this field blend the Champagne of pét-nats, but that would be a disservice, in a way; the Furlani family has managed to produce a stunningly graceful wine without the complicated trappings of Champagne production, and that deserves a category all its own.
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