A guide to cabernet sauvignon basics, with everything you need to know about this famous red wine!
Cabernet sauvignon is a widely planted wine grape highly popular in the US. This wine was created by accidentally breeding red cabernet franc grapes with white sauvignon blanc grapes. This happy accident produced the most well-known red wine in the world.
Below, you’ll find a complete guide that answers the question, “What is cabernet sauvignon?”.
What Is Cabernet Sauvignon Grape?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine variety made from the cabernet sauvignon grape. This wine typically offers a higher alcohol content, around 14%. Also referred to as “Cab,” this wine is well-known for its high level of tannins, which softens the more extended the bottle ages.
Since cabernet sauvignon grapes are produced worldwide, it is a readily available wine that typically has a more affordable price tag. Cabernet sauvignons are available as single-varietal wines or as blends.
Where Does Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Come From?
Originally, cabernet sauvignon came from the Bordeaux wine region in France. As Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can easily adapt to various climates and terrior, this wine grape can grow in many locations. However, two areas are most famous for producing incredibly delicious cab – Napa Valley in California and Bordeaux in France.
The following are also excellent cab options: Sonoma Valley, Italy, Australia, and Washington cabernet sauvignon.
What Kind Of Wine Is Cabernet Sauvignon?
As mentioned, cabernet sauvignon is a red wine. It’s famous for providing a bold, acidic, rich flavor and full-bodied mouth feel. It sits high on the list of robust red wines, especially with the decadent, luscious sips that it offers.
Cabernet Sauvignon is typically aged in oak barrels, which help provide a smoky, spice-filled flavor.
What Are The Characteristics Of Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes?
Three characteristics set cabernet sauvignon grapes apart from other red wine grape varietals. The characteristics are as follows:
- Smaller Size
- These grapes are on the smaller end of the spectrum. They’re also hearty, so they can withstand any weather, insects, or infections that usually affect grapes.
- Delicious In Oak Barrels
- One of the primary characteristics of cabernet sauvignon is how well it ages in oak barrels. The smoky, vanilla, and baking spice aromas are part of what helps create cabernet sauvignon’s complex taste and fragrance. Additionally, oak barrel aging and fermenting help soften the tannins in a cab.
- Thick Grape Skins
- The thick black skin helps produce its high level of tannins, providing medium acidity. These thick skins also help the grapes be more sturdy so that they can thrive in various environments.
What Is Cabernet Sauvignon Supposed To Taste Like?
A typical cabernet sauvignon taste is dry, acidic, and complex. Its high tannins allow this wine to offer a complex taste.
When sipping cabernet sauvignon, expect a decadent taste and dark fruit flavors. Most cabs feature plum, black cherry, blackberry, spices, and vanilla as flavor notes. Additionally, you’ll likely come across a leather and tobacco aroma.
Tip: Cabernet sauvignon’s complex flavors are more apparent after decanting. Allow the bottle of cabernet sauvignon to sit in a decanter for at least 30 minutes before consuming it for the best flavor.
Wine Clubs – A Great Way To Sip Cabernet Sauvignon Wines!
As cabernet sauvignon has such a strong flavor, selecting the correct wine bottle can be intimidating. Therefore, guidance during the selection process can be ideal for wine drinkers, especially those new to cabernet Sauvignon.
Many wine clubs, like Firstleaf, match you with wines based on your flavor profile, providing a scenario where you’re more likely to enjoy the bottles you receive.
More experienced cabernet drinkers can also benefit from wine clubs like Nakedwines.com or California Wine Club, as they often contain options from family-owned or smaller wine producers that aren’t as easily accessible in regular retail or wine stores.
Additionally, wine clubs provide information on each bottle, such as how to serve the wine, tasting notes, and food pairings that can help elevate the experience for anyone.
How Many Calories Are In Cabernet Sauvignon Wines?
Cabernet Sauvignon is on par with most dry red wines in terms of calories, with more or less 123 calories per 5 oz serving.
5 oz is a standard serving size for wine in the US. However, if you’re at home, you may pour less or more into each glass. If this is the case, know that cabernet sauvignon has 24 calories per ounce.
Cabernet Sauvignon Vs. Merlot
While cabernet sauvignon and merlot share similarities (both are red wines typically aged in oak barrels), they bring different flavors to the table. In general, merlot has a fruit-forward taste, while cab offers a more bitter flavor.
Cabernet Sauvignon is made from thick-skinned grapes, while merlot is made from a thinner-skinned grape. They are also harvested at different times, as merlot grapes ripen much more quickly.
As these two wine varieties share similarities, it should not be surprising that the most popular type of cab combines cabernet and merlot grapes. This type of wine is known as a Bordeaux blend.
Check out the best Cabernet Sauvignon wine clubs
Cabernet Sauvignon Vs. Pinot Noir
These two types of red wines are almost complete opposites.
Cabernet sauvignon can grow nearly anywhere, while pinot noir grapes are finicky and can only grow in specific areas.
Pinot noir is lighter in color and texture, while Cabernet sauvignon is darker and decadent.
Additionally, pinot is one wine you want to drink immediately, while a cab can typically age for a while.
Best Food Pairings To Cabernet Sauvignon
The high tannins in cabernet sauvignon make it an excellent choice to pair with fat and protein-based foods. An easy food pairing is any red meat, from fillet mignon steak to burgers.
Cabernet Sauvignon flavors also make it a great choice to serve alongside a charcuterie board with bold cheeses.
Avoid serving cabernet sauvignon with foods with a weak flavor, as the cab will be overpowering.
The cab is produced in two different ways, with some bottles meant for immediate drinking (usually fruitier in flavor) and some that can be aged for 10+ years. Selecting the correct type of cabernet sauvignon will help you take your meal from good to great.
Final Notes On Cabernet Sauvignon Wines
Next time you craft a hearty meal with grilled meats or flavorful cheeses, consider serving cabernet sauvignon with complex aromas on the side. This luscious, bold, aromatic wine is a showstopper. Plus, it’s great for any budget.
Remember to decant your bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon for 30 minutes before serving to get the best out of it.