The best cava taste tested
Move over prosecco – there's a classic sparkling wine you might have overlooked. Spanish cava deserves to become the nation's next favourite fizz. Wine expert Henry Jeffreys talks us through his best buys.
After a few years in the doldrums, cava is back! British sales rose by over 17% from 2021 to 2022, making the UK the fourth biggest market for cava in the world. This makes perfect sense as the British love champagne and the best cava has a flavour that’s not that different but at a much lower price. If I was having a party and wanted something to delight my guests without worrying about an impressive label, I would seriously look at cava rather than champagne or new world sparklers.
Unlike prosecco, which gets its bubbles from a pressurised tank, cava is made in exactly the same way as champagne, by bottle fermentation and then aged for at least a year so you get similar biscuity flavours. The difference is that Cava is usually made from Catalan grape varieties xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada though some producers use chardonnay and pinot noir.
I tried a selection of widely available wines from supermarkets, wine merchants, online retailers and big brands. I have to say that quality was much better than I expected, higher than when I did this test five years ago and much much better than the standard 10 or 15 years ago. The cheap ones were all very pleasant and there were some outstanding wines if you’re prepared to pay a bit more.
Wine expert Henry Jeffreys has previously written drinks guides for BBC Good Food covering all forms of fizz, including the best prosecco, best English sparkling wines and best champagne. He also curates the wine choices for the BBC Good Food Wine Club in association with Laithwaites. Read on to discover which cava is best.
For more, visit our reviews section and find over 400 practical buyer's guides, including taste tests of rosé wine, gin, vodka and more. For regular wine deliveries direct to your door, sign up to the BBC Good Food Wine Club for discounts on exclusively curated wine cases chosen by experts and the BBC Good Food team.
The best cava to buy at a glance
- Best big brand cava: Freixenet Cordón Negro brut cava, £11.75
- Best cava to have with seafood: Waitrose No.1 Castillo Perelada cava brut 2020, £11.99
- Best supermarket own brand cava: Asda Extra Special Mas Miralda cava brut, £8
- Best vintage cava: Conde de Haro brut reserva 2019, £14.95
- Best rosé cava: Roger Goulart Cava Coral rosé brut 2018, £18
- Best for the prettiest bottle: Vilarnau cava rosé delicat brut reserva NV, £12
The best cava to buy, taste tested 2023
Freixenet Cordón Negro brut cava
Best big brand cava
That matte black bottle is such a fixture on the high street that it’s easy to overlook Freixenet but that would be a mistake. This is much much better than it used to be, full of lemon sherbet fruit with a surprising weight and richness to it.
Waitrose No.1 Castillo Perelada cava brut 2020
- Available from Waitrose (£8.99)
Best cava to have with seafood
This is made for Waitrose by Castillo Perelada, a winery based in Girona. I found it deliciously crisp with green apple and a little toastiness and nuttiness on the finish. Its unpretentious charms would be great with a big pile of spicy grilled prawns.
Asda Extra Special Mas Miralda cava brut
- Available from Asda (£8)
Best supermarket own brand cava
£8 for a wine that has been aged for five years – another silly price. Initially it’s quite simple with a lemon peel freshness but then the mature notes like almond and pastry come through on the finish. Really delightful and tastes much more expensive than it is.
More like this
Conde de Haro brut reserva 2019
- Available from The Wine Society (£14.95)
Best vintage cava
Muga is a Rioja Bodega but they also produce cava under the Conde de Haro label. I’ve been drinking this wine for years and every vintage is excellent. If you like a richer style, then this – with its marzipan texture – is the wine for you. Very superior cava.
The Wine Society (£14.95)
Roger Goulart Cava Coral rosé brut 2018
- Available from Hic (£18)
Best rosé cava
No white grapes in here at all, this is made from a blend of pinot noir and garnacha, aka grenache. On the nose it smells really toasty and yeasty and then take a sip and you can really taste the red wine character. There’s masses of red cherry fruit. I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this.
Vilarnau cava rosé delicat brut reserva NV
- Available from Ocado (£12)
Best for the prettiest bottle
The bottle is inspired by the architecture of Barcelona’s most famous son Antoni Gaudí. Happily the contents are as pretty as the outside. Another rosé made from grenache and pinot noir. It tastes a bit like strawberry ice cream but with bubbles. If you can imagine such a thing.
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This review was last updated in February 2023. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.