While most people think of Champagne when they think of sparkling wines, many regions around the world (aside from merely the Champagne region of France) produce their own unique blends of sparkling wines. In fact, the discovery of the second fermentation process, which allowed for the development of bubbles in the wine, led to the creation of many notable sparkling wines, including the Spanish Cava.
A Brief History of Sparkling Wine
Although the French popularized sparkling wines, evidence suggests that the English were actually the first to invent this new type of wine. In fact, archeologists have found thick-walled casks, along with the residue of bubbling wine, suggesting that the English dabbled with the second fermentation process much earlier than the French.
However, once dom Pierre Perignon, a French monk, developed Champagne, sparkling wines started to captivate the world. Note that only sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France can be called Champagne. All other types are referred to as ”sparkling wines from (the region in which they are made).”
Soon, many countries, including Spain, began to dabble in the Methode Champeniosse, the method of making sparkling wines, creating uniquely delicious blends.
Sparkling Wine from Spain
In 1872, Spain began producing its own distinct type of sparkling wine, known as Cava after the cool cellars in which the wine was made.
Josep Raventos Fajito (of the Cordorniu estate in Sant Sadurni d”Anoia) is credited as the first Spaniard to produce Spanish Cava. While many different regions of Spain manufacture Spanish sparkling wines today, Cava from Fodornio and Freixenet are still the highest quality, most sought after Spanish sparkling wines in modern times. To ensure that you are purchasing (or consuming) traditional Spanish Cava, take a look at the bottle”s cork: True Cava has a four-pointed star on top of the cork.
Today, Spain produces about 200 million bottles of Spanish Cava each year for both export and domestic use.
Making Spanish Cava
Here is an outline of the complex process associated with making Spanish Cava:
- Three types of grapes (Xarello, Macbeo and Parellada) are blended and fermented to produce a fine white wine. At this point, the wine is bottled.
- Before placing a cork in the bottle, the licor de tirajo, a mixture of yeast and sugars, is added to the blend. The addition of this yeast mixture will cause the secondary fermentation.
- A temporary stopper is placed in the bottle, and the bottles are stored in a cool cellar.
- The bottled wines that now contain more yeasts now undergo a second fermentation process, as the yeasts convert the wines” sugars into carbon dioxide. Bottles are kept in these cool cellars (traditional cavas) that range in temperature between 55