Caitlin Corcoran is a co-owner and general manager at Ça Va (pronounced “sah vah”), a Midwestern French bistro and champagne bar located in Kansas City, MO. Situated on the southern edge of Westport, the city’s entertainment hub that doubles as a hot spot for chef-driven restaurants and bars, Ça Va features an extensive collection of champagne and other top sparkling wines from across the globe. The intimate space has a full bar that also includes Prosecco on tap. Innovative champagne cocktails and culinary delights, including local caviar bites and unforgettable pomme frites from co-owner Chef Howard Hanna (of celebrated sister property The Rieger), round out the effervescent experience. Here Caitlin provides some insights on sparkling wines for the upcoming summer season – and more.
1) Tell us about your work at Ca Va. How did you get your start there?
I always wanted to work in wine especially champagne. I mean it’s the most fun wine, right? But you can’t just start there, especially if you’re underage. I moved from barista to bartender to wine/hospitality professional. Ça Va allowed me to begin my wine education with a very specific lens and grow from there. Currently, I am studying for the Certified Sommelier Exam, Level 2.
2) What do you hope to achieve there?
Our mission at Ça Va is “Champagne for the People.” We love enlightening people to the fact that delicious sparkling wine doesn’t have to break the bank and is meant to be enjoyed regularly – not just on New Year’s Eve and special occasions. During the summer months we host a series of causal wine patio parties. Our executive chef Howard Hanna takes the lead on a few and collaborates wither other chefs and restaurants for the rest. Ribs & Rosé is always one of my favorites. A new one we just added features an awesome hot dog restaurant, Leeway Franks, and grower champagne for Father’s Day.
3) What influences your choices when deciding which sparkling to place on the menu? How often are new items added/switched out?
Since we’re in a smaller market, a lot of farmer fizz (grower champagne) is highly allocated so it has always been our focus. That being said, we don’t just have every bottle of bubby available in Missouri. Naturally over time it’s developed into a more specific biodynamic, natural, organic viewpoint. This is not just limited to our sparkling selection, our still wine glass list has progressed in that direction way as well. Since we’ve opened three years ago, we’ve fought to get more and more bubbles available to Missouri even if it’s just a case or two. While we do check in with each dégorgement of the wines to ensure we still to want to carry it, our collection has grown on from under 100 bottles to over 150 when all is said and done.
4) What are some of your favorite food & sparkling wine pairings, and what’s one of the more unique ones you have experienced?
Pomme frites and champagne. KC burnt ends with rosé. Specifically for me right now, this Austrian Pet Nat – short for Petillant Natural (Natural Sparkling Wine) – Franz Strohmeier Schilcher Frizzante from Jenny & François Selections is a favorite for me.
5) Summer is almost upon us. What are some of your favorite sparkling wine recommendations for the season? Any tips for service and storage?
I’ve been really getting excited about West Coast sparkling. There are some fun wines coming out of California and Oregon, especially Sh’Bubbles Sparkling Rosé from Bedrock Wine Co., Alloy Wine Works Methode Aluminum (funky Chardonnay in a can), and Rex Hill Grande Cuvée Brut Sparkling (we are the only place besides the tasting room pouring this). I am also a huge fan of Prosecco Superiore DOCG wines. They are an excellent representation of the winemakers and terroir. We have one on our list in particular, Villa Sandi Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, that’s a great example of the region’s high quality.
For service and storage, I’m really loving the growing number of sparkling cans options for summer time. They are great for loading the cooler up and heading to a park, to tailgate, and for barbecues. Definitely with open bottles keep on ice (especially in the sun). You don’t want that bottle of wine to become a loaded weapon.