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All About Cava - The Sparkling Allstar of Spain

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Hello, Candid Corkers!

Today is my husband, Jazzy's birthday! For those of you who are new to the Corker Community, his real name is Joe but everyone has called him Jazzy since the 7th grade. Sometimes nick names just stick, you know?

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to feature Cava as the WOTW today since a splendid sparkler always seems festive for a celebration of any sort. Made with several grape varietals that hail from Spain, Cava is the perfect beverage to accompany tapas and paella, but also complements Mexican food well. As for my favorite Cava pairing? It is out of this world when paired with fried foods! Who knew?!

Josep Raventos of the Codorniu family made the first Cava in 1872. Originally called "Xampany", the Catalan word for "Champagne", it now takes its name after the Catalan word for "cellar", where this festive beverage does its aging.

So what exactly is Cava, in comparison to Champagne? Well, Cava is made from primarily Macabeo, Xarello, and Parellada grapes. Occasionally, you might find a tincture of Chardonnay or even red wine like Garnacha, to make a delightful rose. The primary grapes in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Though knit from different fabric, the method of making Champagne and Cava is the same! Known as the "traditional method", the transformation from still to sparkling occurs entirely inside the bottle.

While Grand Cru (1er) is the top of the line when it comes to Champagne, Cava also has a unique tiered system for quality:

Cava - aged for a minimum of 9 months on the lees (lees are dead yeast particles that increase the texture and creaminess)

Cava Reserva - aged for a minimum of 15 months on the lees

Cava Gran Reserva - aged for a minimum of 30 months on the lees

Each bottle will be marked with a seal to indicate its "rank". When making a selection for purchase, check for this identifier either on the top or the side label to ensure you're getting a good deal! Here's an example of a Cava Reserva seal:

I've recently heard there is a new, ultra-premium tier of old-vine called Cava Paraje Calificado. This baby has an aging requirement of at least 8 years, which gives it the toasty, yeasty characteristics we love in Champagne. I'd like to get my hands on some of this!

There's your crash course on the complexities of Cava. Hope you learned something new! Catch my weekly quizzes on IG stories @thecandidcork to test your knowledge and be sure to check out my WOTW highlight reel each Wednesday to watch me taste test featured varietals. As always...cheers, Corkers!

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