Tuesday, November 6, 2007

For Your Holiday Entertaining, Consider Cava

Everyone needs a little extra money over the holidays. This year, substitute your French or California bubbly with an inexpensive alternative, Cava! Fresh and lively in style, it is inexpensive enough to be an everyday drink, selling for $10 or less.

Made using the traditional French "Method Champenoise", Cava must be in contact with the lees for a minimum period of 9 months before disgorgement.

The traditional grape varieties used have been Spanish, however other varieties such as Chardonnay are being used in increasing quantities. The grape varieties permitted are as follows: Parellada, Macabeo (Viura), Xarel-lo, Chardonnay and smaller amounts of Monastrell and Pinot Noir.

About those grapes: Macabeo ("Mah-cah-BAY-oh"), it's said, contributes floral scents to the wine, while Xarel-lo ("Sah-rel-yo") adds an earthy complexity; Parellada ("Pah-deh-YAHI-dah"), provided it's not over-cropped, builds a framework with a tangy green-apple acidity.

Some of the main producers are Codorniu, Freixenet and Segura Viudas.

Cavas are classified according to their sweetness.

Extra Brut: less than 6 grams of sugar per litre.
Brut: 6-15 g/l
Extra Seco: 12-20 g/l
Seco: 17-35 g/l
Semi Seco: 33-35 g/l
Dulce: over 50 g/l

Enjoy your holidays!