Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular red grape varietals in the world grown all over the globe. It originates in southwestern France and is a hybrid grape, which is a crossing of Cabernet Franc (a red grape) and Sauvignon Blanc (a white grape).
Cabernet Sauvignon is most popular from France, California, Australia, South Africa, Chile, and the Tuscan coast of Italy. Below, we discuss the history of this wine, its characteristics, and provide wonderful pairing options that you can try at home any day of the week.
Understanding Cabernet Sauvignon Wine: What is it?
An international red wine and grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its thick skins, robust fruity aromas, and full tannins that mellow as the wine ages. Sometimes used as a blending grape, especially in Bordeaux, or as a single variety wine the birth of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape was something of an accident. However, winemakers have praised this grape for its ability to resist various elements in the vineyard and for producing a full-bodied wine with medium acidity. Let’s take a deeper look at what makes Cabernet Sauvignon wine so special below.
Brief History of this Red Grape Varietal
As we mentioned above, this red grape varietal came into existence by accident. Originating in southwestern France during the seventeenth century, winemakers experimented by breeding Cabernet Franc vines with Sauvignon Blanc. This resulted in a durable plant that was easy to grow in many regions across France. However, it became a champion red grape in the Bordeaux region. However, the history of Cabernet Sauvignon wasn’t discovered until the early 1990s. A team of wine researchers at UC Davis in 1996 confirmed this grape’s parentage.
Capable of producing both single varietal wines and blends, this red grape became known as ‘the colonizer’ as it soon became one of the most widely planted varietals around the world. Winegrowing regions as far as Italy and Australia began to plant Cabernet Sauvignon vines. However, it was Napa Valley in California that truly put its mark on this red grape in recent times.
In the mid-1970s, a Cabernet Sauvignon form Stags’ Leap in Napa Valley won a blind taste test as part of the 1976 Judgement of Paris, beating reputable Bordeaux producers. Soon after, California Cabernet Sauvignon became highly sought after and was being asked for in restaurants across the globe.
To this day, California is still considered one of the best regions for Cabernet Sauvignon. However, many other new world regions such as South Africa and Australia produce delightful Cabernets, usually at great value.
Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Profile
Cabernet usually has a dark ruby colour and is full bodied with high tannins which differentiates it from other popular red varietals such as Merlot and Pinot Noir. Due to its robust nature, this red wine is best enjoyed with hearty meals that are capable of standing up to the wine. Below, we’ll dive into the aromas and flavours this red wine is best known for and provide our top recommendations for food pairings.
Aromas & Tasting Notes
Cabernet Sauvignon may be known for its iconic dark berry aromas, however, this red wine offers several distinct aromas depending on the region in which it is grown. While dry in nature, this wine’s flavour profile is anything but boring. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon can range from fruit-forward and juicy to very layered and complex.
Common aromas of a Cabernet Sauvignon include:
- Fruit: black cherry, blackcurrant, bramble, blackberry, ripe jammy berries
- Herbal: green bell pepper, eucalyptus, mint
- Spice: black pepper, baking spice, cinnamon, cacao
- Oak: vanilla, coconut, smoke, toast, cigar
- Bottle age: forest floor, tar, earth, leather, burnt cedar
Depending on where the wine is coming from, aromas and flavours will vary. Many wine enthusiasts will notice that a Cabernet Sauvignon from a warmer climate such as California may be more fruit forward and juicy in aromatic profile. However, those coming from a cool climate region may tend to be more on the herbaceous side with higher acid.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine that is packed full of bold and intense flavours. For this reason, the food that you pair with it needs to be equally as rich – unless it is an aged Cabernet that can pair well with softer flavours and textures because the tannins will be less grippy and young.
This red wine is best paired with red grilled or braised meats, hard, aged or funky cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, aged cheddar or blue cheese, loaded burgers and bitter deserts such as sark chocolate. Below are our top recommendations for the best pairing options for Cabernet Sauvignon:
- Grilled ribeye steak or braised beef short ribs with roasted vegetables
- Medium-rare beef or lamb burger topped blue cheese
- Potato gnocchi with gorgonzola sauce
- Cheddar stuffed Portobello mushrooms with garlic and herbs
- Dark chocolate truffles
The key wine pairing principle to remember here is to compliment the robust nature of the Cabernet Sauvignon with dishes that stand up to the bold aromas of the wine rather than getting overpowered by it.
Best Value Cabernet Sauvignon to Buy at Small Winemakers Collection
At The Small Winemakers Collection, we believe that every wine enthusiast should have a Cabernet Sauvignons in their wine collection. This red wine will be a valuable addition to any dining experience.
If you’re looking for a good-value Cabernet Sauvignon, these options will not disappoint:
James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
This fruit-forward California Cabernet Sauvignon is a true delight. The James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 offers flavours of black cherry, warm spice with a hint of smoky chocolate and oaky vanilla. With balanced tannins and a long finish, this Cabernet Sauvignon wine is a great wine at a fantastic price.
Kingston Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
The Kingston Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 from the Limestone Coast in Australia is a perfect example of a cooler climate Cabernet. This deep red wine offer flavours of vanilla oak complemented by blackcurrant fruits and lifted spices. This wine pairs perfectly as a main dish of a leg of lamb with rosemary.
Terranoble Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial 2018
Coming from the Colchagua Valley in Chile, the Terranoble Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial 2018 is known for exhibiting the region’s Mediterranean climate influence. Offering a flavour profile of red berries, cassis, plums, chocolate and smoke this Cabernet Sauvignon is wonderfully rich and complex.