Champagne and cava producers' ambition is to persuade us to pop open a bottle of bubbly as frequently as we open a bottle of tinto, rather than just on happy occasions. Those crafty Catalans, who invented cava, made sure that the only principal region officially recognised was Penedes, although on historical grounds Extremadura and La Rioja also managed to squeak in.
French champagne and Spanish cava wineries are alone among the sparkling wine producers in maintaining the traditional method of obtaining the fizz naturally via a second fermentation in the bottle.
Cheap bubblies such as prosecco do this in steel tanks, which is how they maintain low prices and poor quality. Statistically we each drink 15 litres a year, but the stuff on supermarket shelves does not in any way represent the amazing selection available.
There is no point in pitting champagne against cava. Those who maintain that they never drink cava are the same as claret devotees who turn up their noses at Rioja.
Cava and champagne are two different wines and all they have in common is the traditional method of production and same grape varieties. So let's for a moment delve a little deeper than the big names would like us to, and imagine we had access to the whole range of 150 marvellous cavas that are available at the click of a mouse, although remember that at this time of year shipping may take longer than usual.
The best are Llopart Leopardi 18-22 euros, Colet Navazos 22 euros, Marqués de Gelida Claror 24 euros, Berdié Gran Rupestre 15 euros, Sumarroca Nuria Claverol Homenatge 34 euros.