Just as Hollywood stars have doubles, so does Champagne. And one of the best bubbly stunt doubles is Spanish Cava.
The less expensive Spanish sparkler is a delicious alternative to France’s hero. Look for the coal-black bottle at your liquor store or supermarket, with labels expounding names like the ubiquitous Freixenet (Fresh-shun-NETT) Cordon Negro Cava, Cristalino Brut, Paul Cheneau, Brut Blanc de Blancs, Sumarocca Brut Reserva, Segura Viudas Aria Brut.
Cava, the Spanish name for sparkling wine, delivers bubbles at less than half the price of French Champagne. Though it’s made in the traditional bottle-fermentation method like Champagne (and finer American sparklers), it spends less time aging on its lees (i.e., dead yeast cells) than Champagne, which gives it less of a yeasty, baked-bread bouquet and more minerals, earth, and mushrooms. The use of lesser-known Spanish grapes helps keep prices down, but not quality.
Cava is a truly unique experience, just as stylish and celebratory as Champagne and Prosecco. Think of it as the mysterious cousin from out of town–the femme fatale of sparklers. Many are under $10. For an affordable gift with serious bling-bling, track down Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($20), a hand-blown bottle tricked out with a silvery metal crest and coaster. Salud!
For a full list of alternatives to Champagne, check out my latest book,How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts), and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.