OK, I know it's all over and it was last night that we broke open the fizz. But if you're thinking of cracking open another bottle some time this year, spare a thought for Cava. Obviously, for at least a decade now, we've all been drinking Prosecco. It's become the drink of choice for those who don't want to fork out for French Champagne. But why?
Cava is basically Spanish champagne. Unlike Prosecco (made in massive steel tanks) Cava is fermented in the bottle. In fact, that’s how it got its name.
Originally, the sparkling wine produced in the Penedes region (around 30 miles from Barcelona) was simply called Champagne but when Spain joined the EU, they had to change the name as it was already a French appellation controllee. So they started off calling it something roughly translated as “sparkling wine fermented in the bottle and aged in the cave”. This was a bit of a mouthful so it got shortened to the last word – cave or, in Spanish, Cava.
So, because of the natural fermentation process and the sweet ripe grapes of Spain, Cava has little need for added sugar, unlike Prosecco or indeed Champagne. So maybe there's an argument that it's better for both your teeth and your waistline. It's certainly pleasantly sharper than the sweetness of Prosecco. But we Brits haven't got it quite right when it comes to the niceties of how to drink it. So, remember:
- No explosive popping – opening the bottle should be done with a delicate turn of the wrist so the pop is as soft as possible.
- Serve in a tulip-shaped glass to enable the wine to release its flavours and bubbles at their best.
- Never freeze Cava.
- Don’t serve it too cold – 5-8C is perfect.