Cava Reserva “Blanc de Blancs — Brut”
Anna de Codorniu
Cava Reserva “Blanc de Blancs — Brut”

It may sound counterintuitive, but wines that look white can be made from red-skinned grapes.

This is most often true for styles for which the fruit must be picked before it reaches full ripeness, to preserve natural acidity and suppress excessive alcohol, such as sparkling wines. This helps explain why it is sparkling wine labels that most frequently reference the skin color of their grapes as a style indicator.

Regulated terms can tell us whether a sparkling wine that looks white in the glass has been made entirely from white grapes, as with blanc de blancs, or red grapes, labeled blanc de noirs. This extra layer of information can be helpful to wine drinkers since white grapes tend to produce wines of greater finesse, while red grapes yield wines of greater richness.

Take this Cava, for example, made in Cataluña by Spain's oldest wine company. Almost all Cava is made from green-skinned white grapes, so the blanc de blancs designation rarely appears on these labels. This particular wine is unusual, though, in that it is a blend of the French chardonnay grape and the Catalan parellada grape. As a result, the wine is more delicate, lemony, and refreshing than most Cava wines, which lean more heavily on beefier grapes such as macabeo and xarel-lo. And because it is also labeled "Brut," we can predict in confidence that it will be fully dry with only the barest whisper of sweetness.

Anna de Codorníu Cava Reserva "Blanc de Blancs — Brut," Cataluña, Spain. $11.99 (regularly $14.99; sale price through July 29). PLCB Item #9447.

Also available at Benash Liquors & Wines in Cherry Hill ($15.99); and Total Wine & More in Claymont, Del. ($15.99).