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What is Cava?

Learn what Cava is, its history and how it's made!

A group of people toasting with glasses of wine. Photo by Micaela Peduzi from Unsplash.

Cava is a sparkling wine produced in the Catalonia region of Spain. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as an affordable alternative to Champagne and Prosecco. But what exactly is Cava?

The story of Cava dates back to the late 19th century when Spanish winemakers began experimenting with creating their own version of sparkling wine. The first Cava was produced in 1872 by Josep Raventós Fatjó of Codorniu Winery. Since then, it has become an integral part of the Catalan culture and economy.

In this article, we will dive deeper into the world of Cava and explore what makes it unique. From its production process and flavour profile to its styles and pairing, we will cover everything you need to know about this beloved Catalan sparkling wine.

Cava vs Champagne

These two sparkling wines are produced in different regions using unique production methods that result in distinct characteristics.

The main difference between Cava and Champagne is the region where they are produced. Cava is a Spanish wine made primarily from Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo grapes grown in Catalonia's Penedès region.

These grapes provide a fresh taste with fruity notes and moderate acidity.

On the other hand, Champagne is a French wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes grown exclusively in France's Champagne region.

These grapes offer a more complex taste profile with higher acidity levels than cava.

The ageing process for both wines also differs slightly. Cava typically ages for a minimum of nine months before being released to the market, while champagne must age for at least 15 months before being sold.

In terms of production methods, both Cava and Champagne undergo a second fermentation process to create their iconic bubbles.

Aspect Cava Champagne
Country of Origin Spain France
Wine Region Primarily produced in Catalonia, Spain Primarily produced in the Champagne region of France
Grape Varieties Mainly Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel·lo Mainly Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
Production Method Traditional Method (Méthode Champenoise) Traditional Method (Méthode Champenoise)
Ageing Usually 9 months to 2 years Usually longer aging periods, often 15 months or more
Taste Profile Crisp, light, and fresh Complex, creamy, and toasty
Carbonation Typically slightly less bubbly Typically more effervescent
Price Range Generally more affordable Generally more expensive
Serving Temperature Best served between 6-8°C Best served between 8-10°C


Cava versus champagne trend in Spain

Cava (blue) and Champagne (red) trend in the Spanish market.

Both Cava and Champagne have distinct positions in the Spanish wine market. Cava holds a special place in Spanish culture and is known for its affordability and versatility, making it a popular choice for everyday celebrations.

Champagne, on the other hand, is appreciated as a symbol of luxury and celebration, reserved for special occasions where elegance and prestige are paramount. Despite their differences, both sparkling wines continue to find favour with Spanish consumers, contributing to the country's vibrant and diverse wine culture.



Cava vs Champagne trend in UK market

Cava (blue) and Champagne (red) trend in the UK market.

Cava gained relevantly small popularity in the UK compared with champagne. Though it is offering its distinctive appeal and is experiencing growth in consumption due to its affordability and versatility. Champagne remains the undisputed symbol of elegance and prestige, being the preferred choice for special occasions and high-end celebrations.

Both sparkling wines continue to delight British consumers and enrich the UK's vibrant wine culture.

Cava's Approachable Elegance and Value

One of the standout features of Cava is its approachable elegance. Unlike some other sparkling wines, which can be overly complex or difficult to understand, Cava strikes a perfect balance between sophistication and accessibility. 

It has all the effervescence and crispness you'd expect from a bubbly wine, but with flavours that are easy to appreciate even if you're not an experienced wine drinker.

Also, what makes Cava unique is its affordable price point without compromising on quality or taste. Unlike Champagne which can be quite expensive due to its production process, Cava offers excellent value for money while still delivering a delicious bubbly experience.

Bottle of sparkling wine

Cava Production Process 

  • Grapes Used in Cava Production
  • Harvesting and Sorting
  • Pressing and Fermentation
  • Secondary Fermentation in the Bottle
  • Ageing and Riddling

Where is Cava From

  • Penedès, Catalonia, Spain
  • Other Spanish Cava-Producing Regions
  • Cava Beyond Spain: International Producers

The Art of Cava Tasting

  • Understanding Cava Styles: Brut, Extra Brut, Sec, and more
  • The Importance of Serving Temperature
  • Ideal Food Pairings with Cava

Choosing the Right Cava

  • Understanding Cava Labels: Reserva, Gran Reserva, and more
  • Selecting Cava Based on Personal Preferences
  • Recognizing Quality Cava Brands

Cava Cocktails and Mixology

  • Cava-based Cocktails: Kir Royale, Mimosa, Bellini, and more
  • Creating Cava Mixology Masterpieces

Cava Wine and Celebrations

  • Cava as a Symbol of Festivity
  • Special Occasions and Cava Traditions

Cava Wine Tourism

  • Visiting Cava Cellars and Vineyards
  • Cava Tasting Tours and Experiences
  • Cava Festivals and Events


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