Originating from Catalonia, Cava is Spain’s equivalent of Champagne. This sparkling wine is a blend of three main varieties of grape – Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo – although other types like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also allowed. Cava can either be white or rosé and is typically characterised by a robust, balanced and almost savoury flavour, meaning it can taste a lot like vintage champagne. Factor in that the price tag often comes in at under £10, and this is a great Champagne alternative.
The vast majority of all Cava is produced in the Penedès region of Catalonia, although small amounts do come from other destinations around Spain. Penedès is an area soaked in wine-making history – the first vines were said to have grown here as far back as 7th century BC. The peaceful landscape, with its lush, rolling hills and rich soil, provides the optimum environment for Cava grapes.
Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy, north of Venice, and is made using the Glera variety of grape. It’s widely known as a champagne alternative, thanks to its price tag – you can get a good entry level Prosecco at most supermarkets for between £7-£10. Generally, it’s sweeter than both Champagne and Cava, with tasting notes of green apple, melon and honeysuckle.
Due to this sweetness, Prosecco has been brushed off as inferior in the past. However, in recent years, it's becoming altogether more refined, gaining both a DOC and DOCG in Veneto and Friuli – denominations which signify a wine's quality.
So how is prosecco so affordable? It’s produced using something called the “tank method”, which involves ageing the wine in large quantities in a vat. The older, “traditional method” is altogether more complicated and time-intensive, which is what makes Champagne much more expensive.