Cava Wine – A Taste Of Spain


Hidden away in the northwest corner of Spain’s Catalonia is an area known as Cava country. Catalonia’s Cava scene is dominated by the Penedes wine growing region, which makes up nearly 80 percent of the Cava Designation of Origin (DO) and produces much of the Cava for the whole country. Cava is a Spanish word that means caves. The wine produced here is inspired by the locale combining the exquisite quality with prices affordable to the everyday worker. With the beautiful Montserrat mountains bordering it in the north, you can identify the Penedes region by their lush forests, hills, chalky limestone soil, and ample vineyards. The distinct microclimates found here are ideal for grape varieties such as the Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The climate of the area features warm summer days followed by cool evenings. The distinct temperature differences between day and night lets the grapes develop a consistent acidity, making for a food friendly and lively sparkling wine.

The Grapes Of Cava Wines

Cava is a sparkling wine made by blending Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo into a bubbly delight. Each variety of grape brings its own unique flavor to comprise Cava. Xarel-lo grapes give the wine a rounder body and a little extra bite of tangy acidity. Macabeo grapes add in a citrus note that is bright and fruity, and the Parellada grapes are a delicate addition that also contributes more alcohol content. Combining these three grapes creates a wine that flows together brilliantly, with each grape accenting the other while diminishing any weakness it may have alone. This is the goal of any wine that is blended – to create a new wine that tastes better than each of the individual wines would by themselves. Every year the blend will vary slightly depending on how that season’s crop of grapes turned out, and how much of each should be contained in each batch. Garnacha and Pinot Noir red grapes are sometimes added to the rosado sparkling wines of this region in order to give the wine a little color, however the regulations governing Cava does not allow red and white grapes to be combined to make rosado.


Producing A Bottle Of Cava

Cava takes its cues from the method in which Champagne is crafted in France. Cava wine has a strict quality control process that is similar to the traditional method champenoise. The process in which Cava is made is very similar to making any other wine. However on the secondary step of fermentation, Cava starts to show how it is a truly unique sparkling wine. In m�thode champenoise, the secondary fermentation does not take place in the stainless steel tank, but rather in the blended individual bottle of wine. This means that additional yeast is added to the bottle, along with a bit of sugar so that a secondary fermentation occurs after it is capped and stored on its side. The yeast will then convert the added sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol while it ages anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. After this second fermentation, the bottle of wine will rest for a year or more with its spent yeast in order to develop its complex flavors. Once it has finished resting on its lees, it is time for the wine to go through a process called “riddling.” Riddling is when the sediment composed of the spent yeast is collected into the neck of the bottle and removed, either by a mechanical or manual process. The riddling process can be done in a week when performed mechanically, however it can take up to three weeks when completed manually.

The process of riddling involves placing the bottles of wine into special rack known as a pupitres. These racks keep the bottles at various downward angles in order to force as much of the spent yeast into the neck of the bottle as possible. Once all of the sediment has settled down into the neck of the bottle of Cava, it can be disgorged. In the disgorging process, the winemaker freezes the bottle of wine in order to create what basically amounts to a ice cube made of yeast in the neck of the bottle. The cap of the bottle is then removed so that the yeast can be removed without losing very much wine. Next a mixture of wine and sugar, known as the dosage, is added in order to replace what little wine was lost during the previous process. This is also where it is determined whether the wine will be sweet or dry. The style profiles range from sec to brut. Finally, it is time to add the traditional mushroom cork to the bottle, complete with its wire cap. The bottle is then set to rest until it is ready to be taken to market at the appropriate age.

Styles of Cava

Cava wines can be found in a wide variety of styles. They can be light or full bodied, creamy, dry, or even sweet enough to serve as a dessert wine. While the most common types of Cava wine on the market tend towards the brut end of the spectrum, if you look in the right places you can find dessert Cava wine that is the perfect dinner finale. Simply read the label on the bottle to find the style that suites your individual palate.

Sugar levels in brut nature wines are approximately 0 to 3 grams per liter.

If you find an extra brut, its sugar levels will range from 0 to 6 grams per liter.

Regular brut contains 0 to 15 grams of sugar per liter.

Seco wines are sweeter and have sugar levels that run from 17 to 35 grams per liter.

Semi sec wines have even more sweetness with 33-50 grams of sugar per liter.

Finally, dulce sec Cava wine contains a massive 50 or more grams of sugar in each liter.

Food Pairings With Cava Wine

Cava wine is often served as a meal’s aperitif, and it is quite versatile when it comes to pairing with food. You can pair a bottle of Cava wine with shellfish, fried appetizers, many cheeses as well as cream based meals. This makes it a great choice whether you are serving it along with your olive tapenade or the main course of pecan crusted halibut.

Prices For Cava Wine

While Cava wine is renown for its flavor, one of its most attractive features is actually its price. You can find many different varieties of Cava in the range of 10 to 15 dollars. While it is possible to find vintage bottles or estate Cava wine, they are not nearly as expensive as other options. If you are looking for a top shelf bottle of Cava, you can expect to pay around $40.