Spanish Cava Wine - A Better Alternative to Champagne?

Published on 01/11/2010 in Spanish Culture

Cava Wine was developed in the 1860's after a wine maker, Josep Raventos, discovered this sparkling wine in the Champagne region of France. He loved the crispness and the dry yeasty taste displayed by the sparkling wines and wanted to create his own in Spain in the same method as the French used.

Cava wineThe Spanish sparkling wine he eventually created he called "Champán," Spanish for "Champagne" which would become the name for these Spanish sparkling wines until the European wine makers union forced the Spanish wine-makers to change their name. They eventually did so to "Cava," the Spanish word for cellar, which was usually where the Cavas were stored.

In essence, these Cava wines are not that much different compared to French champagne. I should mention that for this article I mention Champagne made in France, not the American "champagne" you can buy for $8 at the liquor store.

Mostly the same grapes are used and the processing and storage methods are exactly the same. 

Why is Cava wine then so much cheaper than champagne generally?

For one, French champagne is way more popular. Ever heard of Dom Perignon? Cristal? Exactly. Basic economics of supply and demand mandate that Champagne can be priced higher due to increased demand. Add in the many dollars (or Euros) thrown in for the marketing of champagne to maintain the association of Champagne with glamour and the price can be bumped up even higher.

The more money put in to get the wines sold, the more they can charge. Another reason perhaps? The climate of the Champagne region in France where the grapes are grown is generally colder however, year to year the average temperature of the region can change drastically. Predicting when to harvest the grapes every year is quite difficult, adding more work to maintain the high quality.

Therefore add an extra bump in the price. Champagne makers also hand pick the grapes and grade every single grape in quality. Add in the regal prestige of Champagne (for example the first bottle of Cristal was made specially for the Czar of Russia in the late 1600's and never became publicly retailed until the early 1900's) and Cava never had a chance to compete prestige-wise after it was first made.

Poor Cava never had a chance it seems.

Until this current economic downturn. Cava was flying under the radar for quite a long time. People were even buying it in the States without even knowing it was not Champagne but, Cava. If you have ever bought "champagne" from Freixenet or Cordoniu then you really bought Cava.

Even I made this mistake before I became more interested in Spanish wine. Some people even consider Cava to be better than Champagne which is really no surprise. The warmer and more consistent climates that produce Cava can actually make the grapes more ripe, therefore better for wine production. The grapes are even handpicked and graded in the same fashion as the French yet the cost is drastically lower. To put this all together, there is a strong potential that for a much lower price Cava wine could be a better buy than actually buying French Champage, and even American "champagne." The method of production, the hand-picking and quality grading of the grapes, and the Cava wine-making regions themselves can lead to a much better sparkling wine than what people expect.

If you are on a budget and want to enjoy a good foreign sparkling wine of high quality at a lower price then look away from the French and strongly consider Spain. You might thank yourself. I'm sure you're wallet will thank you too.

Written by: Jake Niemenen

About the author:

Jake has recently been introduced to wines from Spain. His newfound passion for the country and the wines that come from it are something that he wants to share with the public. http://www.espanishwines.com




Right arrow icon Send to friends   Right arrow icon Printer friendly version    Right arrow icon Submit your own article


Comments:

BARON DE FRIESLAND said:
10 January 2013 @ 14:54

JOSE BELLO KNOWS HIS GRAPES. I MYSELF DRINK ALOT OF CAVA. AND WHEN I LIVED IN SPAIN. ONE DRUNK CAVA AS OPPOSE TO CHAMPAN. BUT I DO LIKE CRISTAL AND DOMPERIYON. AT 10 EUROS FOR A GOOD BOTTLE. WHY NOT DRINK IT EVERY DAY. FANTASTICO. VIVA ESPANA


BARON DE FRIESLAND said:
10 January 2013 @ 14:54

JOSE BELLO KNOWS HIS GRAPES. I MYSELF DRINK ALOT OF CAVA. AND WHEN I LIVED IN SPAIN. ONE DRUNK CAVA AS OPPOSE TO CHAMPAN. BUT I DO LIKE CRISTAL AND DOMPERIYON. AT 10 EUROS FOR A GOOD BOTTLE. WHY NOT DRINK IT EVERY DAY. FANTASTICO. VIVA ESPANA


Wrong said:
14 November 2012 @ 01:06

NOT the same grapes!


José Bello said:
10 November 2011 @ 16:00

Both are great but are different:
1-Grapes are not the same for Cava and Champagne:
Cava use Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada - the 3 of them are white grapes.
Champagne use one white grape: Chardonay, and 2 red grapes: Pinot Noire and Pinot Meuniere.
2-the champagne needs more sugar for the 2nd fermentation to add alcohol and make it smoother.
3- Cava needs 2 to 4 years in the cellar while Champagne needs 5 or more to be ready.



Shaun said:
24 September 2011 @ 08:30

California wines stand with some of the best in the world, unfortunately in low cost wines most american wines are pure garbage. the ~$10 cava will almost absolutely be better than the equal priced american "champagne". Only recently have producers in california started to produce really decent table wines, we still have some catching up, the high cost of labor in the US makes it hard to compete and lets face it, the makers really would prefer to sell more expensive product.


WineGifts4U said:
09 February 2011 @ 11:57

I agree that Cava is really underrated as a sparkling wine, it is pretty much the same thing as Champagne, but just comes from a different country. Champagne at the end of the day is just a sparkling wine produced in a controlled growing area!
We've recently done a wine tasting with Cava and food, which reiterates your point that it really is an affordable and delicious sparkling wine:
http://www.winegifts4u.co.uk/wine-tv/wine-tv-videos/cava-wine-tasting-with-food/



Fruity Pebbles said:
05 February 2011 @ 07:41

It's a shame that this article slams California wines. Many of the wines in California are grapes from Europe. California has world class wines and the writer of this picks at the snobbish French while himself snubbing the California wines.

All childishness aside, France, Spain, and California all have world class sparkling wines. In Spain its known as Cava.


Only registered users can comment on this article. Please Sign In or Register now.

Comment Using Facebook:




Related articles in this category

A Culture of Benidorm

A Guide to Almeria City

A Guide To The Festivals Of Murcia

A History Of The Spanish Civil War

All About Albarino Wine

All About Tapas

All About Tempting Tempranillo

All You Need To Know About Spanish Wine

An American's Perspective of Spanish Food

Avoiding Misunderstandings In Spanish When You Like Somebody

Books Set in Spain - Five Novels to Read Before You Travel

Celebrating New Year's Eve in Spain

Christmas in Spain

Christmas Shopping in Spain

Devotion - Spain Celebrates Easter

Do you speak Spanish? What do we mean when we ask if someone speaks Spanish?

Easter in Spain

El Grumpy Gringo - Arts & Crafts

El Grumpy Gringo - At the Butchers

El Grumpy Gringo - Get A Heater!

El Grumpy Gringo - Good Old Telefonica!

El Grumpy Gringo - It ain’t ‘arf hot chum!

El Grumpy Gringo - Labels Over Labels

El Grumpy Gringo - Manners Maketh The Man (or Woman)

El Grumpy Gringo - Signposts

Experience Barcelona's Festival Spirit

Exploring The World Of Spanish Wines

Expose Your Child To Spanish

Five Ways Not to Insult the Locals in Barcelona

Flamenco Music - Is it really from Spain?

Follow The Festive Fun Across Spain

From Colonisation To Loss Of Empire; Nationalism And Decline In 19th Century Spanish And Colonial Art

From the Morris Dance to the Flamenco

Gaudi - Barcelona's Most Famous Attraction

Getting Close To The Spanish

Guggenheim Museum Bilboa

Halloween In Spain

Housing Bubble - Underground Living in Lanzarote

How not to give up learning Spanish

How To Kiss A Spaniard

How to Make Spanish Chorizo Sausage

Jamon Serrano - Typical Spanish Ham

La Tomatina Tomato Fight, Buñol Valencia

Language Swap

Learning Spanish - You can do it!

Learning Spanish with Speekee - A Review

Menu of The Day - A Cheap Meal In Spain

Old Friends in New Spain

Pollo al Ajillo - How to Cook the Classic Spanish Garlic Chicken

Processions, Processions, Processions: Semana Santa

Salvador Dali: Son of Girona

Save the Duero

Sherry or Jerez?

Spain After Franco

Spain/UK – A Study of Cultures

Spanish Cava Wine - A Better Alternative to Champagne?

Spanish Culture Has Been Shaped by Numerous Civilizations

Spanish Lies – Book Review

Spanish Sparkling Wine - Four Things to Know About Cava

Sporting Traditions on Gran Canaria

Stub it out in Spain

The Benefits of NOT Learning Spanish

The Magic of the Flamenco Guitar

The Mediterranean Modernistes of Barcelona

The Most Famous Spanish Explorers

The National Art Museum Of Catalonia

The Sirens of La Gomera

The Three Kings - Los Reyes Magos

This Must be New Spain

Top Tips For Learning Spanish - By A 'Mature' Expat

Tortilla Española - Spanish Omelette

Travel, Culture and Study in Spain

Watching TV in Spain

What Makes Spaniards Spaniards?

What We Can Learn From The Spanish

When Cultural Characters Conflict

Why is Spain One of the Most Corrupt Democratic Countries in the world?

Why Spaniards Can Survive La Crisis

Zapping in Spain

Click here for a list of all the articles from our magazine 

Spain insurance services


This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x