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A lifestyle blog by Allison Arbuthnot on The Whole 9

Allison was raised on the vine in Sonoma, California, and believes that life is too short to drink bad wine, count calories, or second-guess your destiny. She now lives in Los Angeles where she practices many things, the two most important being contentment and tricks for opening a wine bottle without a wine key.

No Special Occasion Required

“Champagne on a Monday night, eh?” The cashier winked at me with what he thought was a knowing look.

“Well, it just appeals, and at this price, I don’t really care if I have one glass and dump the rest of the bottle. And it’s not Champagne,” I said with a return wink, “It’s cava.”

While Champagne may have been the inspiration for the Spanish sparkler, cava and Champagne really don’t have a great deal in common, and not the least of their differences is that, for cava, no special occasion is required. This holds particularly true when the cava is an $8 bottle of Non-vintage Cava Cortisano Brut, an impulse purchase during a routine pre-dinner Trader Joes run. The evening ahead of me was a big Greek salad and a backlog of work: reason enough for bubbles in my book.

Cava is made in a number of regions in Spain, though the majority comes from the Penedès, Catalonia’s most well-known wine region, not far from Barcelona. A blend of several grapes, it is made primarily with different combinations of the following native grapes, each lending its own primary characteristic: macabeo (fruit), parellada (aroma) and xarel-lo (alcohol and acidity). While the two largest sparkling wine firms in the world—Freixenet and Codorníu—are Spanish cava producers, here in the States we can’t shake our association that sparkling wine equals Champagne, and furthermore that sparkling wine equals celebration. It is my opinion that we don’t drink nearly enough of the easy, breezy, inexpensive and low-alcohol cava in this fine country.

The cava danced into my glass like it had found freedom and I couldn’t help but smile at the perceived luxury that comes with sipping sparkling wine home alone on a Monday, regardless of the price tag. The Cortisano was light straw and lemon, in appearance, nose and palate. It was simple as simple can be, crisp and clean and bright. I had two glasses. The next day, after an overnight without a proper Champagne stopper, I poured it out, and I didn’t even feel bad.

Cheers.

  1. Alli,
    Can’t wait to try it. Have you found my new Greek Santorini yet FAVAA. It comes in a blue bottle. Would love your opinion.
    love you
    mamaeva

  2. agreed! sparkling wines should be enjoyed more often and shouldn’t always be so expensive… loved this post alli!

    Mamaeva.. I am going to Santorini in a couple weeks..what is this FAVAA wine? Or Alli any suggestions on Greek wines to look out for?

    Bacio
    anna

  3. I haven’t found the mysterious blue bottle yet…Eva, you will have to send me the picture you took of the bottle. I am hedging my bets that it is an assyrtiko, which is the islands primary varietal (accounts for 80% of grape production). Anna, this grape is everywhere so I don’t think you’ll have to look out too hard for that one! Sadly I don’t know much about specific wineries on Santorini so I am not of much help…I guess I’ll just have to plan an educational trip!

  4. I’ll look for that Cava…..a few birthday celebrations are coming up!

  5. The western most beach on Key west is a color that can only be described as “Champagne”. And when you see this sand against the silver blue of the water with the golden light of sunset you pretty much have my favorite color combination. One of the two blonde bartenders at The Buttery, Barbara Smith who we had no end of fun calling Ms. Smyth, invited me to an afternoon swim in her black tile pool in Old Town Key West surrounded by the dense tropical foliage that is the glory of that island. I brought 5 black glass Freixenet bottles to float in the black tile pool. It was as beautiful as I had imagined it to be. More so. Once emptied and sunken we stumbled to Pepe’s for their weekly Thursday night “Thanksgiving Dinner”. I’m happy to say I survived without incident, although it was touch and go. Don’t go to Key West without going to Pepe’s, preferable on Thursday. http://pepescafe.net/menu.htm

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