Wine Pairing for Norman’s
Smash Cheeseburgers with Special Sauce and Homemade Potato Chips
by Proal Perry
I say ditto to Norman on the Summertime evoking memories of cheeseburgers, and second that with a cooler of cold beers in their frigid water bath, so cold it’s painful to plunge your hand in, but so rewarding as nothing is quite so refreshing as that first long slug!
But I digress-this is a wine column. Nothing says daytime drinking to me more than a cold Pét-Nat and guarantees to satisfy any beer drinker’s palate. Pét … What you say? Excluding you cool kids that have been hip for years to this exploding wine category, Pét-Nat is a contraction of the words Pétillant Naturel, a French term meaning ‘naturally sparkling’. It is also known by other names like Methode Ancestrale, or simply Ancestrale, Col Fondo in Italy, or in the English-speaking world as ‘Bottle Fermented’.
How are Pét-Nats different from other Classic Method sparkling wines like Champagne (made by the Methode Champenoise). There are three main differences that you should know:
1) Classic Method sparkling wines are made by combining one or more completely fermented wines in a sealed bottle with some additional yeast and sugar. As the yeast consumes the sugar, the by-product is carbon dioxide, which remains trapped in the bottle, thus fizzy wine! Pét-Nats, however, are bottled while the grapes are going through their initial fermentation, so the CO2 is captured during this process. This produces wine that are eminently quaffable, and tend to be lower in alcohol, typically in the 8-12 percent range.
2) For classic method wines, the local wine authorities dictate what grapes can be used. On the other hand, Pét-Nats are made from many atypical varieties and in unusual combinations, making for more fun, whimsical wines, than the more sophisticated classic method wines. 3) Finally, classic method wines typically require more lengthy ageing, whereas Pét-Nats should be consumed in the first few months after release.
My best recommendation for selecting a Pét-Nat is to ask your trusted local wine merchant. There is a dizzying array of Pét-Nats on the market, with producers from diverse winemaking regions experimenting with these cool sparkling wines, so finding what’s available in your market is part of the fun! Regardless of what you chose (and you should try several) I can think of no better time than a Summer afternoon with Norman’s Smash Cheeseburgers and a Pét-Nat, or three!
Here are a few I particularly like now:
Birichino Pét-Nat of Malvasia Bianca, Santa Cruz, CA
Field Recording Pét-Nat Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Paso Robles, CA
Agnès et René Mosse ‘Moussamoussettes Pét-Nat Rosé of Grolleau Gris and Gamay, Loire Valley, FR
Can Sumoi Ancestrale of Sumoll, Penedes, SP
Proal Perry has been assisting Norman in pairing wines for his food since they first worked together in Key West at ‘Louie’s Backyard’ in the mid 80’s. He has also paired wines for a number of Norman’s cookbooks. He and his wife Connie operate the idyllic “Sourwood Inn” just outside Ashville. There you can experience their love of hospitality and nature first hand.