WHAT better way to celebrate Christmas and New Year than to POP open a bottle of cava with friends?
A sparkling wine with Denominación de Origen (DO) status from Catalonia, cava can be produced throughout Spain, though about 95% is from Penedes (near Barcelona) with Codorníu and Freixenet the major and best known among about 200 manufacturers.
Cava in Catalan means “cellar” with the name officially adopted in 1970 to distinguish it from French champagne, though only wines produced in the champenoise traditional method may be labelled cava.
The primary grape is Macabeu with faint floral aromatics and slightly bitter finish; Xarel·lo has stronger floral and fruity aromas while Paralleda has high acidity and citrus flavours, creating a balanced fruity sparkling drink closer to Champagne than Prosecco.
Produced in varying levels of sweetness, the driest cava is brut nature, progressing through brut, brut reserve, seco, semiseco to dulce which is the sweetest.
Dating back as early as 1851, cava can be white (blanc) or rosé (rosat), which is produced by adding small quantities of red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell.
Though some regard cava as an aperitif or a drink served for a toast, in fact it is highly versatile when food pairing as it can be light and refreshing all the way up to full-bodied.
Its acidity and effervescence will compliment a whole range of foods including poultry, cured and smoked meats, fish and seafood in addition to light desserts and spicy Asian dishes.
Cava prices range from a few euros per bottle to €30 for a Gran Reserva, though in all cases I do not believe you will be disappointed.