In the Catalan language, the word cava means cave or cellar. When the word is used to label a sparkling wine from designated regions of Spain, mostly in Catalonia, it identifies a wine made in the traditional methode de Champenoise, indicating that its bubbles are produced by secondary fermentation in the bottle rather than by a less expensive bulk process called charmat.
Dominio de la Peseta Cava, available at at least one local big-box chain for about $11, is a good example of a dry white cava (there also are rose cavas) at a good price, making it a fine candidate for summer afternoon sipping or as an aperitif before dinner.
In the glass, the color of the wine is pale lemon. The nose is toasty and citrusy. On the tongue, big lemon flavor dominates with side notes of vanilla and pear. The finish is crisp and clean with pronounced pear at the end. All this in a sparkler with mouth-filling bubbles and lots of pop.
Although perfect on its own, this cava could be successfully paired with a robust dish like shrimp sauteed with garlic and pimenton (smoked paprika) or, maybe for a Sunday lunch, with a classic BLT sandwich.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel.