Often overshadowed by its more illustrious cousin Champagne, or more fruity rival, Prosecco, it’s never really been able to shine in the UK market.
Let’s just put it out there; for most people Cava is something you buy when you can’t afford Champagne and before you’ve discovered that you actually prefer the taste of Prosecco.
Usually it tastes pretty crappy – but perhaps that’s because you paid £5 for the bottle on special. Could you imagine what a £5 Champagne would taste like?
Cava is made using the traditional method i.e. exactly the same way as Champagne is made.
There are three main differences:
- It comes from Spain.
- It usually uses different grape varieties.
- It is often not aged for as long as Champagne before release and so doesn’t have as much complexity.
Nowadays there are two types of Cava emerging, the traditional styles which use the traditional Spanish grapes (Macabeo, Xarello, Parellada) and the more modern styles which use the Champagne grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Personally, I prefer the latter of the two.
What does it taste like?
It really depends whether you have a traditional or non-traditional style. Cava is often said to have a rubbery/earthy character, which comes from the Xarello grape variety, so this graces more traditional styles of Cava. The more modern styles have a richer more biscuity flavour on the whole, more akin to Champagne. Of course, a hint of citrus and green apple is found amongst most Cavas.
In Spain you can actually find some very nice examples, you just have to be willing to pay a little more for them.
And dare I say it… Often pricey Cava tastes much better than cheap Champagne.
So why not head out there and spend a little more on your Cava? You may find you actually really do like it.