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Did you know that the biggest rival to Champagne is a beverage called Cava? Cava and its other variant, Spanish Wine, cannot be called Champagne because Champagne is protected by the European Union. The word cava means cave in Spanish and Catalan, and when Cava was first produced, it was kept in caves to age, hence the name Cava. Cava received its name officially in the 1970s by the Regulatory Council of Sparkling Wines. The group had to come up with a different term for their different, but similar wine as France became upset and wanted to have Champagne be coined only to French produced bottles.
Cava was first founded in Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, which is one of the larger towns of Penedes. A group of local wine producers in the area wanted a beverage that could serve as a counterpart to French Champagne and began experimenting with production. In 1872, nearly 100 years before Cava got its name, this group of local wine producers recruited Jose Raventós to help with production. Jose Raventós was the head of the Codorníu Winery and using similar methods of producing French Champagne, Raventós created a different kind of sparkling wine. On completion of the new beverage, Jose Raventós unveiled 3000 bottles to the public for consumption. It has been a hit in Spain ever since!
Most Spanish bubbly is produced in Catalonia, a northern region of Spain. In one region of Catalonia called the Penedes, over 63,000 acres of land are dedicated to vineyards for Cava production. Around 95% of Cava’s are from Penedes and may only be called a Cava wine if they are produced traditionally and within the region. Spanish Wine is the same as Cava, but it’s made in a nontraditional process, so it cannot be called Cava. These sparkling wines are rated based on their sweetness level and mostly used as a celebratory drink in Spanish culture and are often seen at weddings, parties, and Christmas.