Mr Spittoon and I spent 6 weeks in Cava country in Spain. The Penedes is a beautiful region and if you love Spanish sparkling wine, it’s a must do!
When we were there we did a WorkAway experience where we worked in exchange for food, board and wine. It was a great way to extend our backpacking adventure without dipping into our budget. Continue reading →
“I fell in love with everything, the bubbles, the land and the people”..
Swedish born, Anna Wallner, has a passion for all things Spanish and sparkling. In 2009 she bravely decided to leave her stable day job to follow her passion. After immersing herself in the wine industry she came across a world of wine that she now holds dear to her heart, the world of Cava. Anna has become a patriot of the Spanish sparkling wine and is a true inspiration in following ones dreams!
Intrigued by such a motivated and inspirational figure in the wine world, I just had to have a wee Q&A session with her. Here’s how it went:
1. Let’s go back to basics and start from the start, what is Cava?
Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made by the traditional method, following the rules and regulations of the DO Cava, controlled by Consejo Regulador del Cava. I’m sorry, that was very technical. ?
Cava is mostly produced in Catalonia, to be more precise, 95% of all Cava is made in Penedès just outside Barcelona.
2. How did you fall so deeply in love with the Spanish Sparking wine, Cava?
It was during my sommelier studies. I became very interested in sparkling wine in general and I wanted to learn more about Cava, which was much harder than one would think. Learning about Champagne is easy since there are hundreds of books, but books on Cava there were none. When I started to travel in the area I fell in love with everything, the bubbles, the land and the people. It is just amazing, everything!
3. ‘Cava Sparkling Happiness’ is a beautiful book, what motivated you to write the book?
Actually because I did not find any books about Cava during my studies, and thought it was a bit unfair. Cava is after all the most exported sparkling wine in the world, and people should have a fair chance of learning something about what they drink.
4. I absolutely love the food & Cava section in the book, what is your favourite food to enjoy with Cava & why?
Oh I can drink Cava to anything, I just need to have the right bottle. ?
But I do get a bit extra excited over a nice plate of fried calamari. Maybe it is because we don’t get any nice calamari up here in Sweden, since we need to have them imported and that is not the same.
A very nice fresh bottle of Cava, preferably made on the traditional grapes Xarel-lo, Macabeu and Parellada together with calamari, is probably the ultimate Spanish “trigger” for me. But some nice jamon and bruschetta is always nice too. .
5. If I had 1 day in the Penedes, what Cava houses would you suggest I visit and why?
Well, that depends what you are interested in, but to get a good picture of how diverse the Cava production is, I would suggest that you visit one big house like Freixenet and Codorníu to see how good cava is produced on a mass scale. And visit one or two medium to smaller once, for example Raventós i Blanc or Juvé y Camps that are medium houses and make wonderful cava and are both situated in the city of Sant Sadurní. Or smaller houses like Recaredo, Parés Baltà, who are both biodynamic or Giró i Giró that is a fantastic little house that I just love as well. But anywhere you decide to go I’m sure that you will be very well received. The cava producers are a very friendly lot.
6. In one sentence, how would you convince a beer or non-wine drinker to try a glass of Cava?
Because it makes you happy! (And by that, I don’t mean drunk 😉 )
7. If you could take 1 bottle of Cava to a deserted island, what one would it be?
I would take Turó d’en Mota, from Recaredo. It is an amazing cava made from 70 year old Xarel.lo grapes, and it is the most beautiful vineyard I have ever seen, so full of soul. And so it the wine!
8. When you’re not drinking Cava, what are you drinking? Beer. ?
I have always had a big passion for beer, and just love it.
Anyone feel like a glass of Cava now? I sure do! If you interested in learning about Cava, or ordering your own copy of “Cava, Sparkling Happiness”, please click here.
You can also connect with Anna on twiiter and facebook if you would like to chat to her about Cava more indepth.
There is nothing I like more than having fun with what I do. Sometimes wine can be such a pretentious subject and being pompous is definitely not in my repertoire. The times when I do try and act the part of the ‘wine snob’, I will undoubtedly end up dribbling red wine down my front or something of the like. That’s typical clumsy Casey.
Therefore I must celebrate my skills and I believe that is by bringing fun into the world of wine. I want to strip wine of that snobbish vibe and show that anyone can enjoy it. It’s also noteworthy to know that you don’t have to own an Aston Martin to enjoy wine either.
Potato chips, whether they are crinkle cut, quick fried or salted are the ultimate snack food. They are cheap, accessible and nowadays you can even get some ‘slightly’ healthy ones. So let’s match the ultimate snack food to wine, better yet, lets make it something sparkling.
I have always heard that sparkling wine and potato chips flatter each other. Actually experts like Sommelier, Jaclyn Stuart, believe that the effervescence (sparkling quality of the wine) of the wine, especially dry sparklers, clears the palate of the fried fat in the chips. How good is that? Basically what we are saying here is that you are tricking your palate that it ate anything remotely bad for you. I like!
So last Friday I headed down to the local Sainsbury Supermarket to gather my supplies. As I’m still on a backpacker’s budget I was pretty limited to what I could get. Needless to say it was still a great night overall. My shopping purchase consisted of: 1x bottle of Sainsbury Brut Cava £5 and 1 x packed of those mixed flavour school lunchbox bags of potato chips £2.
Preparation was simply: Cava in the freezer and open the chip packs. What a great way to spend a Friday night with great company.
The Cava which won a bronze medal at the 2011’ International Wine & Spirits Competition’ was surprisingly delicious. In the glass it is a lemon colour with beautiful gold flecks that catch the light. The bubble stream in the glass was vivacious throughout the whole half an hour or so it took to drink the bottle, which I found rare for Cava. Normally the bubbles die out super quick. The palate was extremely approachable with notes of granny smith apple, citrus and barely ripe nectarines.
Now the bit you have all been waiting for. What was it like with the potato chips? I bought 4 of the typical flavours: ready salted, cheese & onion, prawn cocktail and salt’n’vinegar. Here is what we came up with, after various tests 😉
Ready Salted: This is the typical sparkling wine potato chip flavouring match. In my household it was not bad. It is complimentary but not that bang of flavours we were all so looking forward to. Next chip my dear..
Cheese & Onion: I have to admit I was a fan. The cheese hit did take over the palate but as I mentioned previously, the Cava really did take that ‘I’m such a fatty for eating chips’ feeling out of my mouth.
Prawn Cocktail: I was so looking forward to this one and I thought it would be a dead winner. I mean you can’t do better than a bottle of sparkling with seafood right? Well it is right, but the key to the rule is that it needs to be ‘fresh seafood’.
Salt’n’Vinegar: This was the one I left for last, as I thought no way in hell will this work. Maybe it was our crazy taste buds tricking us but I believe this was one of the best matches. The acidity of the salt’n’vinegar really bowled over that acidity in the Cava. Once the acidity was wiped out it simply let the apple fruit notes of the Cava shine through. I should mention, being a salt’n’vinegar chip connoisseur that I am, that this brand was more on the salty side than the vinegar side. Perhaps this effected the outcome.
In the end, you like what you like. It is a fun, cheap and cheerful way to start tasting wine with different flavours. Once I am a working girl again I will have to try the gourmet chip range. A girl’s got to do her research after all.