The sparkling Spanish wine, cava, has been produced since the 19th century. Using grapes that are indigenous to the region of Catalonia, the production of this wine spread throughout the region and largely benefitted from an epidemic that wreaked havoc in France, destroying many vine plants. A shortage of European wine would not do though, and so the Spanish began to prosper from France’s misfortune, and cava began to make a name for itself throughout the continent. Now, with companies such as Codorníu and Freixenet producing cava, it is readily available on the market and it’s often a cheaper alternative to champagne.
Cava is produced in exactly the same way as champagne, but made with different grapes, and there can be some variety too. Macabeu, the main grape used in cava production, has a simple taste with faint floral aromatics leading to a slightly bitter finish. Along with Xarel-lo grapes and Parellada grapes, the three are combined to make a fruity sparkling wine that may be less sweet than prosecco, but not as nutty as a vintage champagne. Cava can also be classified by the sugar content or according to the amount of time that the wine has spent ageing.
If you know what to look for, buying a sparkling wine at a reasonable price shouldn’t be hard. The more you look for a decent bottle of cava, the more parallels you’ll find with a refined bottle of champagne. Understand what you’re looking for when you go hunting for this champagne-style bubbly, from the type of grape used to how long the bottle has been aged, because it all plays a role in providing a fizz that won’t fall flat at your party!