Looking for a good, affordable bottle of bubbly for the holidays? Consider Cava.
Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain with a lot of similarity to French Champagne. In fact, the Spanish bubbly was called Champaña in Spain until the 1970s when French regulations were put into place to limit the use of the word Champagne to only those wines produced in the Champagne region of France. So, the Spanish re-named their sparkling wine for the caves or cellars where the sparkling wine was kept for aging. Thus came the name Cava.
Like Champagne, Cava is produced in the 'Traditional Method' where secondary fermentation is done in the bottle. This is how the bubbles are naturally formed since this second fermentation also converts sugar to alcohol using yeast, but the resulting CO2 is trapped in the bottle, producing the carbonation.
Unlike French Champagne, Cava is produced with the Macabeu, Xarello and Paralleda grapes. But Cava surprisingly has a very similar taste to Champagne, much more so than the highly popular Prosecco. But the best thing about Cava is its price. You can find a nice bottle for under $20.
Like Champagne, Cava is produced in various levels of sweetness:
- Brut Nature -- Up to 3 grams of sugar/liter
- Extra Brut -- Up to 6 grams/liter
- Brut -- Up to 15 grams/liter
- Extra Seco -- Between 12 - 20 grams/liter
- Seco -- Between 17-35 grams/liter
- Semi-Seco -- Between 33-50 grams/liter
- Dulce -- More than 50 grams/liter
You can also find Cava Reserva which is aged an additional 6 months (for a total of 15 months) over the standard Cava (9 months of aging) and Cava Gran Reserva which is aged a total of 30 months.
Cava is a great alternative to Champagne and a wonderful sparkling wine to enjoy during the holidays (and year-round!). Chill a bottle and enjoy. Cheers!