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Sparkling

Sparkling

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Spanish Sparkling Wine


History of Champagne and Cava

The origin of Champagne goes all the way back to Roman times, although at the time it was not known as champagne. The name champagne, taken form the French region with the same name, started to be used in the 15th century in Paris. Something worth mentioning, is that the highly appreciated beverage we know today, actually comes from a problem faced, at the moment white wine was being bottled before the fermentation was completed. The fermentation continued in the bottle and produced bubbles which made the corks pop out. This wine became very popular in The United Kingdom, and it was this fame that originated the champagne. As major milestones in the evolution of this sparkling beverage, is inevitable to mention the contributions by the monk Dom Perignon, who introduced a similar cork to the one used today and worked on the selection of the grape. The first champagne labels started to arise at the beginning of the 17th century. Currently, champagne has a controlled denomination of origin (DOC,) and buying champagne is, as a consequence, a reason to celebrate.

Parallel to champagne, cava is a Spanish sparkling wine from the Catalonian district of Penedés, however it is also produced in other regions of Spain. The first references of cava are found in mid-19th century, and the way to elaborate cava at that moment was not different from that of champagne. But due to chance, the phylloxera plague that affected Penedés in 1887, ended the grape harvest, and was the reason for the introduction of other kinds of native grapes that would give cava its definite personality. The regulatory council for cava was formed in 1972, after a conflict emerged with the champagne denomination of origin. Spanish cava can be considered the Spanish alternative to French champagne.

 

Elaboration of Cava and Champagne

The process of elaboration followed by the different champagne and cava labels are similar, and it is based on the champenoise method. The fundamental differences between the two kinds of sparkling wines lie on the grapes, on one hand for champagne, chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are used, on the other hand for cava, subirat or malvasía and chardonnay are used. In PaladarPlus we mainly work with two kids of grapes: Macabeo, widely used in Rioja(DO,) which provides sweetness and perfume; and Xarel-lo, which provides body and structure. In the case of cava, grapes from varieties such as; garnacha, trepat, monastrell or pinot noir, are also used.

The process of elaboration includes a first stage of fermentation in cask, similar to any other kind of wine. At the end of this first stage, a mix of yeasts and sugar is added to the cask, with the purpose of activating the second fermentation which happens in the bottle with the liberation of carbon dioxide, and originates the bubbles. After a process of clarification and sediment removal, the expedition liquor is added. The liquor is a mix of good quality aguardiente (hard distilled liquor) and sugar. The quantity of sugar will determine if champagne or cava brut, dry or sweet, or any of the intermediate varieties is obtained.

 

Pairing suggestions

Buying champagne or cava is usually associated to an special toast to celebrate. However in modern cuisine, there are numerous pairing suggestions, which amplify noticeably the possibilities of consumption of these appreciated beverages. There are many options, and they mainly depend on the sugar content in either champagne or cava. It is possible to find successful combinations with desserts, pastas, salads, fish and meat.

Cava brut is probably the most versatile and ideal to drink with appetizers such as finger food, nuts, cheese or cured ham. People who love these sparkling wines, can find delicious combinations with all kinds of grilled meat. If they are seasoned, champagne brut reserve is a total success.

A rosé cava is always pleasant with desserts and specifically with fresh fruit, to which it provides a very special glamour touch.

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Sparkling.

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