Cava Pairing Dinner

10th December 2014

Colin was asked by the Consejo Regulador DO Cava, Señor Pere Bonet to present a pairing evening where different styles of Cava were matched to different dishes – a whole 4 course dinner accompanied only by Cava!

It was demonstrated that Cava has the necessary qualities to be served throughout a dinner, without the need to refer to another wine at all! Aperitif, Starter, Main Course and Dessert.

The President of the Consejo Regulador  of DO Cava, Señor Pere Bonet and his wife flew down from Barcelona to attend the dinner at Moraira’s Swiss Hotel.


The first of the styles we tasted was a Joven (young) Brut Cava. Made from the three  most commonly used traditional grape varieties, Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel.lo, 33+% each. The wine delighted us all with its clean, refreshing acidity and its pairing with the amuse bouches and innovative first course of salad with jamón serrano, pear, lettuce leaves and baked cherry tomatoes plus dressing. A good start, and in fact for several tasters, their favourite of the four different styles we were to taste!

The Cava served with next course, a perfectly cooked and presented fillet of sea bass, upped the ante in terms of depth of flavour, whilst retaining that oh so important freshness, the foundation on which all styles of Cava should be based. The Reserva Cava we tasted here had, had two months longer than the 15 months minimum time spent on its lees (en rima) in order for it to qualify as a Reserva.


For many of us it was clear that we were experiencing a deeper, fuller and more complex sparkling wine with a greater mouthfeel and weight. The 50% Macabeo made it’s presence felt in terms of the required acidity and slight green apple aroma and flavour, whilst the 35% Parellada added elegance and an understated floral and slightly earthy nose. The Xarel.lo in the blend was just enough to ensure a full and long finish. I thought it excellent!

Having experienced a meat course served with a Gran Reserva Cava when in Cataluña, coincidentally on the opening day of the 2014 Cava harvest, I knew that such a style of Cava, in this case a Brut Nature, the driest possible style of sparkling wine with a maximum of only 3grams of sugar per litre, would manage the challenge set before it. This Cava took part in an elegant dance of flavours, body and richness, served as it was with Magret de Canard.

A Gran Reserva Cava has to have had a minimum of 36 months en rima – this weighty and yet noticeably elegant, full-flavoured and enticingly perfumed venerable Cava has enjoyed, rather regally in my view, an ageing of 45 months before its release. It’s a wine that, whilst complementing such a flavoursome dish, also needs to be savoured on its own. A wonderful Cava!

I’d like to acknowledge here the advice that my UK based colleague; Fiona Beckett of gave me regarding the final pairing – dessert with a Brut Rosado Cava. A number of ideas were circulating my small brain but it was Fiona’s recommendation that we paired this wine with a cheesecake that focussed myself and the Head Chef of the Swiss Hotel.

Made with Trepat, Monastrell and Garnacha (all black grape varieties, of course) and having had a full 15 months en rima, this Cava has balanced freshness, fruit aromas and flavours as well as depth. Red cherries, raspberries and redcurrant, with a passing nod to pomegranate seeds, abound, complementing rather nicely the black forest fruits of the cheesecake. Lovely and pretty too!

So next time you reach for the Cava, remember it’s not just a celebratory drink or an aperitif, it can also be served throughout a whole dinner!

Written by Colin Harkness

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