Cava tasting

by Andrew Stein

Mixing things up one afternoon, we drive out to the Penedes area not far outside of Barcelona as we heard it’s Catalonia’s wine region.  In particular, this region is famous for producing cava, Spain’s famous sparkling wine.  We learn that 95% of all cava is actually produced here.

We aren’t too sure what to expect, and when we arrive we find a beautiful, sleepy, unassuming little town with a giant chocolate factory (we obviously spend some time here) and a bunch of wineries.  The wineries in town look small but established – when walking around, we find that the wine tasting culture of northern California is very different from that in Penedes.  There are only a couple other couples we run into also doing some touring and tasting; otherwise, it’s a very quiet afternoon.  

There are two highlights of our visit: 1) we find a winery, Vilarnau, outside of town on a hill that we aren’t sure is even open, but once we walk in and start chatting with one of the workers, he keeps encouraging us to taste different wines and even gives us a tour of their wine cave.  And 2) we take a tour of one of the wineries in town called Recaredo.  We quickly learn that there are multiple levels of caves underground full of wine bottles of different vintages and in different stages of the fermentation process.  When we come back out of the cave we find ourselves in an entirely different block of the town.  A true a-ha moment comes when we put together that cava means “cave”.