Cabernet Sauvignon is an iconic wine grape. With many styles offering intense and bold flavours, wine enthusiasts can feel unsure about which dishes pair best with this full body wine. Yet, following simple wine pairing principles can make all the difference.
Looking for inspiration? This article will explore the best Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing options that you should try. We also will provide tips on how to approach a Cabernet Sauvignon pairing in terms of acidity, tannins, body, flavours, and more.
How to Pair Food with Cabernet Sauvignon
Many people have asked: What food pairs best with Cabernet Sauvignon? If this thought has gone through your mind recently, you are not alone. Yet, before you can start choosing Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings, you must consider the profile of the wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon is medium to full-bodied in structure and has full, mouth filling tannins with great intensity. Instinctively this may tell you to avoid pairing with light salads or seafood, for example. It’s believed that bold wines pair best with rich dishes. For example, a classic Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing is a grilled steak.
Yet, pairing this wine involves noticing more subtle nuances. It all comes down to what style of Cabernet Sauvignon you are tasting. Blended Cabernets such as a legendary Bordeaux or a Tuscan Super blends are bold yet versatile. These wines can also have higher acidity levels due to the climate the grapes are grown in. A single variety Cabernet Sauvignon from hotter regions would be riper and more fruit-forward while potentially having less acidity.
These elements, including the nature of the wine tannins, should be driving your Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing. There will be a handful of dishes that pair well with either style but understanding how the subtleties between the two variations interact with dishes is key to pairing this red wine well.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairings
Let’s take a look at some recommended food pairing ideas for Cabernet Sauvignon. Although there can be the idea that this red grape varietal is best paired with red meat, it is also suitable for vegetarian dishes and semi-sweet desserts.
Steak does seem like an obvious choice. Yet, there is no better pairing than steak and Cabernet Sauvignon. Grilled ribeye steak is a particularly popular choice of cut. Its fat, salty content can counteract the wine’s tannins and acidity.
The gamey qualities of the steak pair well with the Cabernet’s chewy tannins and help to showcase its hints of dark fruit and sweet oak aromas. We recommend pairing with the fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon from the Lodi region, James Mitchell Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. A flavourful wine showing notes of warm spice and dark cherry, it pairs beautifully with juicy steaks and hamburgers.
Lamb chops or ribs are other great choices for those that aren’t particularly fond of steak and want a meat alternative. Whether grilled lamb with rosemary and thyme or a barbecued Asian lamb rib dish, Cabernet Sauvignon is the best wine for standing up to the rich flavour of lamb.
If choosing to pair with Asian lamb ribs, pick a Cabernet Sauvignon that is medium bodied and has fewer oak influences. This will enhance the spices featured in the dish and complement the sweetness of the Hoisin sauce beautifully.
A perfect pairing for a butterflied leg of lamb with rosemary is the Kingston Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2019. This full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from the Limestone Coast region of Australia has aromas of blackcurrant and vanillin oak, but still has nice acidity. Its firm tannins and the lush fruit aromas will stand up well against the richness of the meat.
Looking for a vegetarian Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing? Look no further than a grilled or stuffed Portobello mushroom. Often overlooked as a red wine pairing, Portobello mushrooms are earthy, rich and hearty in texture and taste. This makes them perfect for pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
The earthiness of the mushrooms matches the wine’s mouth-filling textures and terroir-driven nature. When topped with butter and garlic, the flavours of a portobello mushroom let the earthier notes of the Cabernet Sauvignon shine (expect earth, cedar, and coffee on the palate).
For this pairing, we recommend the Terranoble Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva Especial 2018. This Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon offers robust richness and notes of plums, cassis, and smoke on the nose. Ideal for pairing with red meats.
While some might describe tofu as bland and flavourless, when smoked and served with stewed lentils it can become an exciting Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing option.
Although lighter in texture than a portobello mushroom, this protein option prepared this way can stand beside a bold Cabernet Sauvignon without getting lost in the mix. The smokiness of the tofu will balance out the fruit forwardness of the wine, allowing both ingredients to be in harmony together.
When it comes to pairing cheese with Cabernet Sauvignon, look for cheeses that have a higher fat content and bolder flavours. The reason for doing this is that fattier cheese can make bold wines seem less harsh. Make sure to pick options such as gouda, aged cheddar, or gorgonzola. Serve with crackers or a selection of charcuterie, this Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing is a match made in heaven.
This Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing is better suited to a blended style such as the Waterstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. With fine tannins and elegant dark fruit notes this wine is an ideal cheese with Cabernet Sauvignon pairing.
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Desserts
When it comes to the dessert course, choosing a bittersweet dish is a popular pairing for Cabernet. That’s why semi-sweet desserts such as flourless chocolate tortes, chocolate truffles, or chocolate petit fours are your best choice.
The complex bitterness of dark chocolate paired with the Cabernet enhances the dark fruit characteristics of the wine. A black cherry-filled chocolate truffle will complement the fruit-forwardness of a Cabernet Sauvignon. While a dark chocolate cake filled with pistachio mousse will create a lovely juxtaposition between the textures of the wine and the dish.
To Your Next Great Glass of Cabernet Sauvignon
At The Small Winemakers Collection, we truly believe that Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most iconic wines available. Varying in style and flavour, this red wine has effortlessly earned its place at the table. For more information on how to pair Cabernet Sauvignon or to get advice on which Cabernet Sauvignon pairings are best, get in touch with our team today.