Cava: Meet Catalonia’s sparkling star beverage

Italy has prosecco, France has champagne, and the United States has sparkling wine. Spain’s own version of this bubbly beverage — known as cava — rounds out the list as a sparkling treat to be treasured during your next visit to Catalonia.

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The alcoholic drink grown from grapes can (technically) only be called ‘champagne’ if it is produced in the region of France with the same name. Thus, various countries in the world that bottle their own versions have also adopted their own nomenclature.

Catalonia’s signature beverage was first produced as a sparkling wine in 1872. It is grown and nurtured in eight different growing regions in northeastern Spain, including Catalonia in which there are 11 districts of origin. One of these districts, Penedès, is responsible for producing 95% of the nation’s cava.

Spain makes every attempt to produce its cava using only Spanish grapes, but French varieties make appeareances every now and then. The three grapes that are used in cava production are macabeu, parellada, and xarello, all of which are white grapes.

Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.
Cava is grown from grapes, just like wine.

In order to be considered cava, the wine must be produced using the traditional méthode champenoise, (or in Spanish, the método tradicional) which involves a second fermentation period that takes place in the bottle.

The sparkling beverage — available in both white and rosé varieties, the latter of which is mixed with a darker Spanish grape called Garnacha — is often served at special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and baptisms. Spain’s most famous cava producers are Freixenet and Codorníu, both of which offer tours and tastings at their facilities in Catalonia.

To learn more about these excursions and how to reserve your place on a cava tour, visit the Attractions page on our website.

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