We admit it. We’re fervent fans of fizz. We adore sparkling wines of all kinds. Our brother knows this and recently dug deep into his pockets and sent us a highly-rated French Champagne as a gift. Oolala!
Drinking on our brother’s dime is one of our favorite things. But when we buy bubbly for ourselves, we head to the Spanish aisle because it’s one place that sparkling wines are “value-priced.” In fact, we figure we can buy ten bottles for what our brother spent on one.
Spanish sparkling wines are called cava – the Catalon word for “cellar,” referring to the underground cellars where the wines are aged. (Years ago, Spain ceased using the term “Spanish Champagne” on their labels because…well, the French made them stop.)
Cavas are made using the same “traditional method” as Champagne. They start out as still wines and are put into bottles, where (with the addition of a little sugar and yeast) a second fermentation takes place. That’s when the bubbles are created. As the cavas are aged, the bottles are continually turned so that they end up in a vertical, upside-down position. By this time, sediment that has been produced from fermentation collects in the neck of the bottle. The sediment is quickly removed, and the bottles are recorked.
A Spanish cava will not taste identical to a French Champagne. The two have different grapes and different styles. But cava is a tasty alternative. Some of the brands we’ve been buying include Kila, Jaume Serra Cristalino and Segura Viudas. They’re not meant for aging – so pop them open and celebrate.
Barbara and Beverly