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You Had Me at Pet-Nat
A Natural Wine-Soaked Memoir275
It was Rachel Signer's dream to be that girl: the one smoking hand-rolled cigarettes out the windows of her 19th-century Parisian studio apartment, wearing second-hand Isabel Marant jeans and sipping a glass of Beaujolais redolent of crushed roses with a touch of horse mane. Instead she was an under-appreciated freelance journalist and waitress in New York City, frustrated at always being broke and completely miserable in love. When she tastes her first petillant-naturel (pet-nat for short), a type of natural wine made with no additives or chemicals, it sets her on a journey of self-discovery, both deeply personal and professional, that leads her to Paris, Italy, Spain, Georgia, and finally deep into the wilds of South Australia and which forces her, in the face of her "Wildman," to ask herself the hard question: can she really handle the unconventional life she claims she wants? Have you ever been sidetracked by something that turned into a career path? Did you ever think you were looking for a certain kind of romantic partner, but fell in love with someone wild, passionate and with a completely different life? For Signer, the discovery of natural wine became an introduction to a larger ethos and philosophy that she had long craved: one rooted in egalitarianism, diversity, organics, environmental concerns, and ancient traditions. In You Had Me at Pet-Nat, as Signer begins to truly understand these revolutionary wine producers upending the industry, their deep commitment to making their wine with integrity and with as little intervention as possible, she is smacked with the realization that unless she faces, head-on, her own issues with commitment, she will not be able to live a life that is as freewheeling, unpredictable, and singular as the wine she loves.
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Rachel Signer is the founder and publisher of Pipette Magazine, an independent natural wine-focused print magazine, sold in over twenty countries via independent book and wine shops. Her writing about natural wine has appeared in numerous publications both online and in print. Originally from the U.S., Signer lives in South Australia with her husband and daughter, making natural wine under the labels Lucy M and Persephone.