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Who’s Crowned the Cava Guru and What Should I Know about Cava Wine?

For those of you just tuning in, last week, we asked you to participate in a Cava Wine Quiz! 13 questions were posed to those brave enough to press “T” for true and “F” for false. Tough, we know, but we enticed you into participating by offering a Free Catavino T-shirt. Did I mention, FREE? Thick and warm, it’s the perfect t-shirt to to drink cava in, re-gift to a friend, use as a wine glass cleaner…the possibilities are truly endless.

Today, Catavino promised to announce the grand winner of our Official Cava Wine Quiz, but strangely enough, we’ve drawn a tie. Of the handful of people who casted their votes, at least two answered 10 of the 13 questions accurately – keeping in mind that 2 of the 13 questions could have either been answered either True or False. Therefore, Catavino has decided to create the final and ultimate round of our Cava Quiz. We’re calling it: The Ultimate Cava Question!

Guess what? Anyone can participate! Even if you didn’t participate in the last quiz, you can now enter in this one. And to ensure a single, solitary winner, we’ve fashioned the game based on a number, similar to counting jellybeans in a jar! Even though I was always off by a couple thousand colorful beans, you can use your power of logic, intuition, and, well…Internet searching skills to find the right answer. Whoever gets closest to the correct answer, wins! Come on…give it a try! Put your answer in the comment section below!

The Ultimate Cava Question:
In 2006, how many bottles of Cava were exported to the USA?

Bonus Points: In which month is 50% of all Cava sold?

And for those of you interested in the answer to our last Cava quiz, we’ve included both the questions and the answers below. Please feel free to chime in and let us know how you did?

  1. 1. Cava is a sparkling wine that must be aged for at least 1 year in bottle prior to being sold.
  2. False. Cava only needs to be aged for 9 months in bottle before it can arrive to your doorstep.

  3. 2. Cava uses the same method of production as Champagne.
  4. True. Which means that after primary fermentation and bottling, a second alcoholic fermentation and aging must occur in bottle.

  5. 3. Cava is produced in a small specified region in Cataluna, first designated in 1966.
  6. False. In 1966, The Ministry of Agriculture approved the regulation of Vinos Espumoses y Gasificados, stating that producers elaborating sparkling wine in the traditional champagne method may classify their wines as “Cava”. However, legally, Cava was defined as a “high-quality sparkling wine produced in a certain region” by the European Union in 1989, and it wasn’t until 1991 when the official Cava Regulatory Council was established.

    Interestingly, Cava is the only designated wine region in Spain that is NOT restricted to one small area. The region of Cava encompasses, get this, 159 municipalities located primarily along the northeastern Mediterranean coast and up through the northern border of Spain, including: Cataluna, La Rioja, Aragon, Navarra and the Basque Country. However, there are also a handful of municipalities situated in the hot and arid climate of Extremadura, neighboring the Portuguese wine region of the Alentejo, which also just so happens to produce the Portuguese version of sparkling wine, Espumoso. The rational behind the regions being spread across the country is simply that of regulation. Before the DO had been established in 1991, very high quality Cava had already been in production for over a century. So rather than excluding producers, the Regulatory Council chose very specific regions which they felt consistently produced high quality Cava wines.

    After traveling through Alt Penedes last Monday, we also learned about an important distinction between the land of cava and the region of cava wine. The region, as mentioned above, is regulated by set standards dictated by the DO; however, the land of cava is a marriage between both physical and cultural ideas. Culturally, Cataluna was the birthplace of sparkling wine in Spain, whereby influencing a very strong bond between the people and the wine; yet physically, three cities not 35km apart are the driving force behind Cava: Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, housing 80% of all Cava producers; Villafranca del Penedes, where the regulatory board and its subsidiary associations are located; and between the two cities, Subirates, where the majority of the vines are grown.

  7. 4. Cava can only be made from the white grape trinity: Parellada, Xarel.lo and Macabeo.
  8. False. Although the three classic varieties required for elaborating Cava are Macabeu, Xarel.lo and Parellada, there are also a handful of other varietals commonly added, such as: Chardonnay, Subirat, Riojan Malvasia, and the red varieties of Garnatxa, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Trepat, which is typically used in the production of rose Cava.

  9. 5. Cava producers recommend white fish, chicken, salads, fruit and nuts to pair with their Cavas, so as not to mask or diminish its elegant, crisp flavors.
  10. False. This is a far cry from what a Cava producer will sell you as solid pairings with a Cava wine. Although the above mentioned are fantastic marriages with a Cava wine, a Cava producer will likely argue that you can pair Cava with everything from butifarra (Catalan sausage) to mildly cured Manchego and from raw almonds to pan seared Salmon. They will also be the first to suggest Cava be enjoyed with lunch or dinner and with appetizers, a main course, or dessert. In short, the sky is the limit!

  11. 6. The most popular Cava worldwide is a Cava Brut, containing anywhere between 0-15 grams of sugar per liter.
  12. True! Both nationally and internationally, Cava Brut makes up 50% of all sales. While second place can be awarded nationally to Brut Nature, and internationally to Semiseco.

  13. 7. It is not the responsibility of the DO to promote Cava, only to regulate it.
  14. True/False Technically, the answer is true. The function of the Council is to regulate the production and elaboration processes, so as to guarantee its origin and quality. Beyond that, the council’s responsibilities extend to promoting research for the advancement of Cava winemaking practices, in addition to promoting Cava’s image locally in the week long Cava festival held in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia.

    On the other hand, the answer is false, because the Council does absolutely zero to promote cava beyond the Penedes. The Council states that it is the producer’s responsibility to promote cava on a broader scale, not theirs. Additionally, with Cava sales continually rising, they felt it was not logical to allocate funds in the promotion of cava when it is already promoting itself.

    As two die-hard Iberian wine marketers, it is very difficult for us to understand this logic, especially when there is so much that can, and should, be done to promote Cava both nationally and internationally. How many cavas other than Freixenet and Cordoniu can you find in your store? Additionally, with 146 out of 270 wineries producing less than 50,000 bottles a year, the likelihood of you knowing who they are is virtually impossible without the help of either the DO or writers like ourselves.

  15. 8. The 4 point star located on the top of a cava cork is mandatory stamp required to differentiate cava from sparkling wine.
  16. False. According to the Council, in 1972, it was mandatory to mark your cork with either a star, a circle or a triangle to differentiate between a Cava, an Espumoso (a sparkling wine that’s not Cava) or a Regional Specified Wine (a wine accepted under a DO as a quality Espumoso from that region), respectively. But when asked if it was a mandatory for sparkling wine producers to mark their corchos with these “quality stamps” today, the answer was an emphatic, no, it is voluntary.

  17. 9. The largest consumer of Cava wine is the UK.
  18. False. Germany comes in a strong first, importing 45,840 bottles in 2006. When compared to Spanish consumption, Germans consume a considerable amount more: for every 2 bottles consumed by a Spaniard, 7 is consumed by a German. The UK commonly takes a solid second place, having imported 31,112 bottles last year.

  19. 10. There are 270 Cava producers, of which only 18 have a production of over 1 million bottles a year.
  20. True! And if that isn’t mind blowing enough, these 18 producers are responsible for approximately 90% of all Cava produced in Spain!!!!

  21. 11. Sparkling wine in Spain that is not Cava is called, Vino Petulancia.
  22. False. It’s called Vino Espumoso, not Vino Petulancia (or Petulant Wine)

  23. 12. Total hectares registered to DO Cava in 2006 were 25,652.
  24. True/False Because this information isn’t the easiest to come by, I wouldn’t expect anyone to know that there were actually 32,409 hectares registered at the end of 2006. So everyone got credit for this one!

  25. 13. The standard number of twists needed to loosen the metal cage holding the cork to the Cava bottle is 6.
  26. True! However, if you’re hands are the size of a gnome, I suppose we’d have a solid debate as to the credibility of this question, but since I don’t know any gnomes who drink wine, I’m gonna stick with my answer 🙂

Thanks everyone for participating and don’t forget that if you sign up for our free newsletter, you can still win Richard Mason’s book on Port wine and the Douro…FREE! Are we emphasizing this word free, gratis, te cuesta nada, enough for you 🙂


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