Cava — The Spanish Celebration Wine

Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago, IL

Cava — The Spanish Celebration Wine

The holidays are upon us and my thoughts turn toward celebrations with friends and family at this time of year. And celebrations lead me to thinking about popping a bottle of bubbly to get the festivities started. Sparkling wines are made in many different countries. Of course, all respect goes to that famous French region of Champagne. However, Spain also has its hat in the ring with their version of a sparkling wine they refer to as Cava.

Cava has a Designation of Origin similar to Champagne in France, however, it relates to the type of grapes used and the process of making the sparkling wine. This process is often referred to as methode tradicional, which is the same process as is used in Champagne and other areas. The main difference between the Champagne and Cava is the grapes used. Most Spanish Cava is made in the Penedes region in Northeastern Spain and uses the grape varietals Macabeo (mah-kah-bay-oh), Parellada (pah-ray-ya-da) and Xarel-lo (shah-rel-low).

Cava also uses similar designations for its sparkling wines as other producers from brut to seco (sec or dry), semiseco (semidry), and dulce (doux or sweet). With so many similarities, why is it called Cava in the first place? When the Champagne region took steps to assert that the name be used only for sparkling wine made in that region of France, and no other place, the Spanish decided to call their bubbly after the cellars it’s kept in, hence Cava, (or cave in English).

In the next few weeks as the snow sticks to the ground and the celebrations get warmer, I’ll be reaching for Cava and toasting to everyone’s good health! Salud!

Written By: Kai Wilson, Beverage Baron, Mercat a la Planxa