CAVA, the Spanish Sparkling Wine

Good Wine shop : carrer de les Tres Senyores (corner with carrer del Torrent de les flors) Gracia area (Metro Joanic)

There are many different kinds of cava but the Recadero is a very good one. Price 17 € in a shop.

Cava Recadero Brut Nature Gran Reserva , cava from Barcelona area – Alt Penedes
Recadero Cava

Cava, a Spanish “sparkling wine”, is a centuries-old tradition carried on in the northern areas of Spain. A Cava is created in the same manner as French Champagne.


Ninety-nine percent of Cava in Spain is made in the northwest region – in the Penedès area of Catalonia. The other 1% is scattered randomly amongst small producers in the rest of the country. One of the most popular sparkling wines in the United States, Freixenet, is actually a Spanish Cava. Out of the 130 million bottles of Cava produced each year, Freixenet accounts for over 60% of the volume.

The grapes traditionally used for Cava – macabeo, xarello, and parellada – make Cava a light, white, fruity, perfumed wine. There are currently around 250 Cava producers in operation in Spain, with most falling into the defined region and therefore legally able to use the Cava designation on their labels. The Spanish wine term for this is the ‘denomination of origin’.

How Cava is Produced

High quality sparkling wines, including cava and French champagne contain bubbles of carbon dioxide. How do the bubbles get there?

First, the grapes are harvested and a white wine is produced. Several types of wine may be blended. Three grape varieties native to Spain are Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada.

  • Tirajo is the second step – The bottle is filled with the blended wine, then a syrupy mixture of yeast and sugars is added, called licor de tirajo. The yeast will cause the secondary fermentation to occur in the bottle. At this stage, the bottled wine is then transferred to the cellar with a temporary stopper.
  • The Second Fermentation is next – The yeasts convert the sugar to carbon dioxide. This second fermentation and bottle aging occurs in the bottle and lasts for nine months at a temperature between 55 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the second fermentation/aging, the bottles are turned occasionally. This process is called remuage and in some wineries, this is still done by hand. This turning of the bottles causes the residue from the yeast to collect in the neck of the wine bottle. The neck of the bottle is then frozen, which forces the sediment out and the bottle is re-corked immediately.

Grades or Qualities of Cava

In 1991 EU (European Union) legal specifications were implemented to make sure that there was a consistent quality standard for Cava and at the same time, the EU recognized the origin of cava. However, there are very few producers of cava outside Cataluña. A star with four-points is printed on the base of the cork of any true cava. The six official types are as follows, depending on the sugar content:

  • Extra Brut – 0-6 grams of sugar per liter, the driest of the cava
  • Brut – 0-15 grams of sugar per liter
  • Extra Seco – 12-20 grams of sugar per liter
  • Seco – 17-35 grams of sugar per liter
  • Semi-Seco – 33-50 grams of sugar per liter
  • Dulce – More than 50 grams of sugar per liter, the sweetest of the cava

In general, the more expensive, the drier the cava. The less expensive cava is much sweeter. If you read the label on the less expensive bottles, you’ll see that it is probably Semi-Seco.

We recommend that you put the bottle of cava in the freezer or an ice chest filled with ice and bring out each bottle only when you are ready to drink it. (If you put bottles in the freezer, make sure not to forget about them or they will explode and you will have a sticky mess to clean up!) Cava should be served very cold to really enjoy it – about 46 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve in chilled flute champagne glasses so that the bubbles last longer, since they must travel farther before they break the surface. Place the glasses in the freezer for at least a half-hour before you will use them. Chilled glasses help to keep the cava cold.

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