Orange Wine vs Pet Nat: How Are They Different?

Orange wines and pétillant naturel (pet nat) wines have both soared in popularity in recent years. These trendy wine styles pique the curiosity of wine lovers looking for something new. But what exactly are orange wines and pet nats? And how do they differ in terms of production methods and flavor profiles?

What is Orange Wine?

Our Organic Spanish Orange Wine is a white wine made like a red wine, with prolonged skin contact. The grape juice ferments in contact with the grape skins and seeds, remaining in contact anywhere from days to months. This extended skin contact period extracts tannins, phenolics and pigments from the grape skins into the fermenting juice.

The result is a wine with an orange or amber color, more body and tannic grip, and often oxidative, nutty flavors. Orange wines can be made from conventional white wine grapes like Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Common production areas include Friuli in Italy, Slovenia, and regions of Georgia.

What is Pétillant Naturel (Pet Nat)?

Pet nat wines get their natural sparkle from bottle fermentation, when the wine completes fermentation in the bottle it is sold in. The wine goes through initial fermentation in tank or barrel, is then bottled with some remaining sugar, and finishes fermenting in bottle. This traps CO2 produced by the fermentation, making the wine lightly sparkling.

Pet nat wines are unfiltered, so they retain a hazy appearance with sediment. Flavors can range from crisp and appley to funky and barnyardy. grapes used are often red or white wine grapes also used for orange wine, like Ribolla Gialla or Chardonnay. Pet nat production has taken off in the United States, France's Loire Valley, and Italy.

Key Differences Between Pet Nat and Orange Wine

While pet nat and orange wines are both trendy, natural wine styles, they have distinct production methods and flavor profiles. Here are some key ways they differ:

Production Method Orange Wine Pet Nat
Skin contact Yes - prolonged None
Fermentation Vessel Barrel, tank, amphora Barrel or tank first, then bottle
Lees Contact No Yes - unfiltered/cloudy
Carbonation Still wine Light effervescence
Oxidation Often allowed Avoided

Flavor Profile Differences

The production differences also result in contrasts in the flavor profiles of orange wines vs pet nats:

Flavor Notes Orange Wine Pet Nat
Body Medium to full Light to medium
Tannins High tannin grip None
Texture Dense, structured Bright, crisp
Aroma Oxidized, nutty, earthy High-toned fruit, yeasty, funky
Acidity Medium acidity High acidity

Orange wines showcase more richness and phenolic grip, while pet nat has delicate bubbles, crisp acidity, and vibrant fruit.

Food Pairing Differences

Their distinctive styles also mean orange wines and pet nats pair best with different foods:

Best Food Pairings Orange Wine Pet Nat
Cheese Aged hard cheeses Fresh soft cheese
Seafood Grilled salmon Raw oysters
Meat Braised lamb shank Fried chicken
Vegetables Roasted root vegetables Green salads
Dessert Chocolate cake Fruit tart

The tannic structure and oxidative notes of orange wine suit rich meats and boldly flavored dishes. Meanwhile, pet nat's bright acidity matches lighter seafood, veggies, and citrusy desserts.

Popular Regions and Grape Varieties

Orange wines and pet nats also differ in where they are produced and grapes used:

Orange Wine Regions and Grapes

  • Italy - Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano
  • Slovenia - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris
  • Georgia - Rkatsiteli, Kisi, Khikhvi

Pet Nat Regions and Grapes

  • France - Loire Valley, Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc
  • Italy - Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna - Barbera, Sangiovese
  • USA - California, Oregon - Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir

So while orange wine utilizes white grapes in an unconventional way, pet nat sticks to conventional red or white varietals with an unconventional production method to create its signature bubbly style.

Trying Orange Wine and Pet Nat

If you're eager to experience an orange wine and pet nat side-by-side, here are some key tips:

  • Seek out complementary styles - try a rich, tannic Slovenian orange wine alongside a bright, berry-driven Cabernet Franc pet nat for contrast.
  • Focus on freshness - with natural wines, younger is often better. Seek current or 1-2 year old vintages.
  • Know your regions - producers in regions like Friuli and Loire Valley are masters of these styles.
  • Ask your local wine shop - discuss flavor profiles with the merchant and sample options in the shop to identify the best picks.
  • Start with small formats - half bottles and cans let you try more styles without uncorking full bottles.
  • Try our Organic Spanish Orange Wine - experience the complex orange wine style in a convenient canned format.

Comparing an orange wine side-by-side with a pet nat is a fun way to explore the origins of their radical differences. The same grapes take wildly divergent paths in these unconventional production methods, showcasing the creativity of natural wine producers. With an open mind, curious palate, and a few bottles to sample, you can decide which trendy wine style you prefer.