The very first producers of cava were Francesc Gil and Domènec Soberano from the city of Reus, in Tarragona, who first presented their cava at Paris’ Universal Exposition, in 1868.
Cava was initially produced using the same variation than those used in Champagne, but when the phylloxera plague attacked several vineyards in Penedés, the vines that produced black grapes had to be replaced by vines that produced white ones, which made the cava develop into something very different.
The word cava is Catalan and it means “cellar” or “cave”, the latter having been used in the early years of cava production for the preservation or aging of the wine.
Spain became the second biggest producer of sparkling wine, after France, producing around eighteen million twelve-bottle cases each year. Cava is mainly produced in Catalonia, but there are other areas of the country that also produce it, like Aragón, Rioja, the Basque Country, Castile and León, Extremadura and the Valencian Community.
Cava has seven different varieties that receive different names according to the amount of sugar used to make them: Brut Nature has only up to 3g of non-added sugar; Extra Brut can have up to 6g of sugar per liter; Brut can have up to 12g per liter; Extra Seco can have between 12 and 17g per liter; Seco can have between 17 and 32g per liter; Semiseco can have between 32 and 50g per liter; and Dulce (Sweet) has over 50g of sugar per liter.
There is also a variety of cava that uses small quantities of still red wines from Monastrell, Garnacha or Cabernet Sauvignon, creating rosé cava.
Where to try Cava in Barcelona?
There are several establishments where you can have a glass of Cava in Barcelona. We recommend the following:
Xampanyet is a quirky little bar in the Gothic neighborhood. There you can have a variety of tapas and have some Cava by the glass or purchase an entire bottle. This bar is usually very busy, so come with time.
Xampanyet is located at Carrer de Montcada, 22.
La Cava is another tapas bar, a popular place for the practice of the Spanish habit known as “El Vermut”, to sit and eat some appetizers and have a drink before lunchtime, practiced mainly on the weekends. The owners have a second establishment on the same street called La Pepita.
La Cava is located at Carrer de Còrsega,339.
Can Paixano, also known as La Xampanyeria is one of the most popular Cava bars in Barcelona. It is always full of visitors, those who come to try Cava for the first time, and those who are regulars. There is no place to sit and limited space inside, but both the Cava and the food served at Can Paixano are worth it.
Can Paixano is located at Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 7.
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