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Nov 6, 2012 06:38 AM

Question for the lovers of sparkling wines . . . .

OK, I'll confess . . . I'm surprised that no one has posted a comment regarding this article -- -- and so I'm beginning to wonder if anyone here (on Chowhound and in the U.S.) even drinks CAVA.

There are some truly excellent sparking wines produced in Spain, but CAVA *does* have -- at least in my mind -- something of a tarnished image . . . not as bad as Charmat-process (aka bulk process, aka cuve close) sparkling wines -- think André, Cook's, etc. -- but cheap and low-end nonetheless. Yes, prices have increased over the years, but I have a hard time shaking the image of Frexeinet ("the black bottle bubbly") and Paul Cheneau at $3.99 . . .

Then again, I look at Francis Ford Coppola's "Sophia" -- the sparkling wine, not his daughter -- and I cannot for the life of me understand how a bulk-process sparkling wine produced from Chenin Blanc can be so expensive. What do I know?

Anyway, DOES anyone here drink Spanish sparkling wines? What do you think of when it comes to CAVA and $$$ -- value? high quality? bargain? substitute for something more expensive, or something worthwhile in its own right?

Inquiring minds . . .

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  1. Honestly, I don't ever drink it.

    I buy Korbel for mixing in champ cocktails like french 75 or 76's and mimosas.
    Misc French Champagne and American sparklers for drinking, apps,dinner, holidays.
    Vino Verde, Lambrusco (the semi's) or Prosecco for fun and with snacking/brunch/lunch.

    For me, Cava is not worth drinking on it's own but doesn't have the right taste for cocktails, so I don't tend to buy it.

    1. Not so much. Even some of the "better" higher-end ones still lack the complexity (usually missing some mineral component) and are a bit too much on the sweet side for my taste. The best one I've had has been Privat Cuvee Laieta, but I'd still rather drink Champagne.

      1. Sure why not? I'll drink almost anything with bubbles and while CAVA may not have the complexity and creamy elegance of champagne, it has it's place as an everyday drinker in mi casa. I probably like Prosecco a bit better. Still it's good to have a little variety and the grapes used (viura, xarel-lo, parellada, or macabeo) while probably not in the same class as pinot or chard, can produce some bright and lively sparklers. Two of my favorite bargains (<$20) are the Vega Barcelona brut reserva, and Vilarnau Brut. Nothing fancy, but solid weekday sparklers. Drink a lot more sparklers in the summer, but with the hot weather we've been having the wife and I opened up a CAVA yesterday afternoon to have with some spicy Thai food.

        1. Frixinet has an upscale cava called Elyssa that I think is very very good. Both in white the pink with a retail about $20,

          1. Sparkling wines seem to hit a tasting blind side for me. I can percieve sweet vs dry but for the most part I can not dectect that much difference in actual flavours. Maybe the bubbles interfere with my tasting. For me the difference is so small that I will not be that picky as long as it comes in at under $25. Gruet, Cava, Prosecco, It all seems to similar to me so I stick with the lower priced stuff. Even the Sparkling Albarino from Bonny Doon which came as part of my wine club leaves me in the dark. I like it but could not describe its flavour. Higher end champagne is wasted on me and I no longer buy it.

            5 Replies
            1. re: budnball

              "The Wine Trials" book has some really interesting discussions on just this topic, and they even mention tasting sparklers once they have gone flat as a way to judge overall quality. Definitely worth reading.

              1. re: RhonelyInsanediego

                Might that explain some of the serving suggestions I've seen about using wide body glasses instead of flutes, or even regular wine glasses?

                1. re: PolarBear

                  Exactly! I adore aged champagne for this very reason. With an aged champagne, not only do the flavors mellow and complexity develops (in a good one) but the bubbles "calm down" and become more "fine"...allowing you to taste the more subtle flavors.

                  It is also the very reason I choose Korbel for champagne cocktails. The bubbles are big and strong- and hold up to the orange juice,brandy, creme de cassis, whatever, etc....and the flavor of Korbel (extra dry) is a bit "austere" and "one note" allowing for it to compliment the sweeter mixers.

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    "Might that explain some of the serving suggestions I've seen about using wide body glasses instead of flutes, or even regular wine glasses?"

                    Nope, it's a different reason. The reason to use a regular wine glass to drink champagne has to do with the loss of aromas and flavors when there are lots of bubbles in the glass. The etching at the bottom of the flute creates that line of ascending bubbles we're all familiar with. Carbon dioxide is dissolved in the wine, and the etched nucleation sites allow the CO2 to aggregate and form a bubble. The bubbles rise through the glass -- what we've all seen -- and burst when they reach the top of the liquid. Flavor molecules (esters, acids) hitch a ride on the surface of the bubbles, so when the bubbles burst as described, some flavor is lost.

                    When lots of bubbles aren't formed in the glass -- the case with a regular wine glass without nucleation sites -- bubbles and aromas/flavors are released in the taster's nose and mouth rather than being lost to the air.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      That is probably why I still prefer the coup for most sparklers (except for real delicate ones). I really don't like alot of "fizz" in my nose :)