Sunday, December 28, 2008

ring in the new year with cava!


There was a neat article in The New York Times this weekend that touched on the increased consumption of sparkling wine in many countries over the past five years. For whatever reason, champagne has become the it-word for sparkling wine (in the same way that you might suggest that your friend 'google' something, although she may actually use any number of Internet search engines). Champagne is simply the sparkling wine that was originally created in the region of Champagne, France (of course, other countries have tried to steal champagne's thunder by producing it elsewhere, much to France's chagrin). But champagne is hardly alone in the world of bubbly...in fact, France itself has not one but several types!

Italy's most successful version, called prosecco, is equally sparkly and, to my taste buds, equally yummy. Prosecco isn't the name of an Italian area, though—it's the name of a variety of grape originally from the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region of Italy. Like champagne, prosecco is being produced outside of its original region more and more, and it is a very economical and tasty alternative. (The aforementioned Times article actually focuses on prosecco, so if you're interested in finding out more, here's the full text.)

Which leads me to cava, my sparkling wine of choice! Cava is native to the region of Catalonia in Spain, and it is delish. It is also cheap! The last time I was in Barcelona, I bought a bottle of pink cava (it also comes in the more traditional white variety) for a whopping 2 euros. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the name "cava" means "cave" and refers to the fact that back in the day, caves were used in the wine's creation.

As I have some Catalan roots (and I like to save a buck on booze whenever I can), I try to go with cava as often as possible here in the States. I'm no oenophile, but I find cava on par taste-wise with both prosecco and champagne; in fact, I would challenge anyone to differentiate between a $10 bottle of cava, a $20 bottle of prosecco, and a $30 bottle of champagne! The French can keep their hoity-toity champagne. I'll drink cava—and so should you!

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