With warmer weather upon us it is sometimes nice to just sit and enjoy a glass or two of fizz. However, what to choose. There are rows upon rows of fizzy wines and Champagnes in the shops. It seems that there can be little difference between Champagne and Cava to the untrained palate. Is there a difference in production techniques? Can the untrained or those not used to drinking such things taste the difference?
Well, Champagne has to come from Champagne and has made out of a combination of 3 grapes (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay) and made using the Méthode Champenoise techniques. They think this truly reflects the terroir of the Champagne region. They were one of the first to assert their regional identity around the world by enforcing their region name as almost a trademark. They forced Californians to stop using the the word Champagne when they make sparkling wines (ok there exceptions from before the treaty was signed)
Cava just like Champagne is tightly regulated. It has to be made in a certain place with certain grapes and with certain methods (Méthode Champenoise again). Again, Cava is supposed to reflect the Terroir of the place it's made (Mostly Catalonia). Cava can be as expensive as good Champagne.
Both regions make excellent sparkling wine. Can you tell the difference? Probably not to the untrained palate. I think even I would have a difficulty telling the difference between a high end Cava and Champagne. The only way you'll know is to start buying and tasting!