Differences between Cava and Champagne
Mainly, cava and champagne are sparkling wines that are made from a fermentation process in which very small bubbles can be seen. These bubbles differ from other carbonated wines to which gas is artificially added, in which larger bubbles such as those present in carbonated drinks can be observed.
In this way, although it is true that cava and champagne are very similar to each other, they have certain specific characteristics that differentiate them from each other, which we will see below based on their respective definitions.
In a simple way, “cava” is understood as sparkling wines produced in the traditional way in the Cava region in Spain, this method being the one in which a second fermentation of the base wine occurs in the bottle itself. This wine is exclusively made with grapes from the region’s own vineyards, from La Rioja, Alava, Zaragoza, Navarra, Valencia and Badajoz.
The cavas were originally made with three native white grapes such as macabeo, xare-lo and parellada, which grow in the sunny Catalan Mediterranean. For this reason, in a cava the notable acidity of champagne is not perceived. However, at present, the cava regulatory council allows the production of wines with chardonnay and pinot noir grapes, so the difference with champagne lies in the place of manufacture.
In the same order of ideas, cava is made in the Catalan Mediterranean, where there is a sunny climate with little rain, which is why the grapes have less acidity than in other regions of the world. It should also be noted that cavas are mono-vintage products, which means that a coupage (mixture of wines of different graduations) of wines from a single vintage is bottled. Finally, its flavor is more fruity, light and fresh, with a paler yellow color and dry on the palate.
Briefly, we understand champagne to be sparkling wines made in the traditional way in the Champagne region of France, a method that consists of a second fermentation in the bottle itself. Thus, champagne is a wine made basically with three types of grapes such as chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir, the latter being the most abundant, presenting a tinted color and high acidity due to the region’s climate. Therefore, champagne is usually added a greater amount of sugar to help the fermentation process and reach the necessary alcoholic degree. For this reason, champagne is usually a bit sweeter and more palatable.
On the other hand, champagne can be made with mixtures of wines obtained in different harvests and its appearance is more vinous and sweet, with a more marked yellow color.
In attention to the above, the fundamental differences between cava and champagne are:
- Cava is a sparkling wine of Spanish origin made in the Cava region while champagne is a sparkling wine of French origin made in the Champagne region.
- Cava is made with wines from the same year (a single vintage) while champagne is usually a blend of wines from different vintages.
- Cava is made from white grapes while champagne is mostly made from red grapes.
- Sugar is not added to cava in the fermentation of the base wine, while champagne does admit chaptalization (addition of sugar to ferment the base wine).
- Cava is less sweet than champagne, since sugar is added to champagne to help the fermentation process and reduce its acidity.