What is Cava?

What is Cava?

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine. Cava is the lesser known little brother of Champagne and Prosecco. While they seem to get all of the attention, Cava is a real game changer for those who enjoy sparkling wines. It is often less than $20 per bottle and it tastes great!

Here’s a list of some of the top Cava brands to try.

Grapes Used for Cava

Cava uses indigenous Spanish grape varietals. The three traditional grapes used are all white varietals: Macabeu (Macabeo), Parellada, and Xarel-lo.

How is Cava Made?

Cava is very similar to Champagne, although there are a couple of differences.

Similarities include how it is made. Both are made in a traditional sparkling wine method and the wine goes through secondary fermentation (the thing that makes the bubbles) naturally in the bottle. Only wines produced in the traditional method can be called Cava. Although winemakers produce Cava all over Spain, most of Spain’s Cava is produced in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

One thing that is different between Cava and Champagne is the rose Cava cannot be blended. Meaning Macabeu, Parellada, and Xarel-lo (which are all white varietals) cannot be used. Only red grape varietals can be used. Garnacha, Pinot Noir, and Subirat grapes are commonly used for rose Cava.

What does Cava taste like?

Surprisingly, Cava tastes more similar to Champagne than Prosecco does. It may be because of the winemaking techniques and the grapes used. Cava is characterized by its simplicity. Light lemony flavors, almond nuances, and a slightly bitter finish.

Styles of Cava

Just like Champagne, Cava can come in a variety of styles.

Brut and Brut Nature (Extra Brut):

AKA dry and extra dry. These are the most styles of Cava. They are nutty, full of citrus, acidic, and have a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Rose Cava:

The pink stuff! Rose Cava is made with red grapes. This is also usually dry.

Aged Cava:

A real luxury is aged or Reserva Cava. It is aged on the lees (pretty much dead yeast and particles from the winemaking process), which gives it great body and flavors of almond and baked apple.

Food Pairings

Keep in mind that Cava has less residual sugar and more acidity than other wines. Therefore a higher fat dish with no spiciness is a great bet.

Salmon, oysters, and other fish with a cheesy or creamy sauce is a classic for Cava pairings. Here is my favorite creamy salmon sauce recipe. 

Cava even goes well with Chicken Alfredo!

Cheers, time to get your bubbly on!