Cabernet Sauvignon

complex, aromatic and vibrant

You’ve probably heard of Cabernet Sauvignon it’s one of the regal grapes and it’s great that can be aged extremely well. Not the oldest grape varietal in the book but definitely one of the most important grape varietals in history. Varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon grown in California, Chile, China, and Australia produce different wines with distinct tastes and characteristics.

It is a common misconception that the word “cabernet” refers to the grape that it is made from. In fact, the grape is actually called cabernet sauvignon. The word “cabernet” is a term that was coined in the early 20th century that refers to the way wine is made. It gets its name from the French phrase “cabernet sauvignon” which translates to “burnt black”. This is because the wine would often be exposed to high temperatures during the winemaking process. Today, most wineries use temperature-controlled stainless steel vats to prevent the wine from getting too hot.

Photo credit: Fred von Lohmann

The grape is often called Cab for short and is best known for its use in Bordeaux blends, although it is also widely used in other blend varietals around the world.

Cab Sav is a full-bodied red wine and it’s super enjoyable even when young. Some of the most famous places for Cabernet are Bordeaux Napa Valley. It’s the world’s most famous and most widely recognized red wine grape, rivaled in this regard only by Merlot. It’s a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. In conclusion, Cab Sav is grown in nearly every major wine-producing region on the globe. Interestingly, the wine is used as a blending grape in the United States as well as in France, but the grape only gets blended with its own clone (not the parent grape Bordeaux) around the world.

History and origins

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular varieties of wine in the world and has been for centuries. Though its origins are somewhat mysterious, plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon have long been found in Bordeaux, France, and it is widely believed to have been bred from Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Although it is most widely associated with Bordeaux, it’s grown the world over and is the dominant grape in most countries that produce red wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon in warmer climates

The use of cabernet sauvignon in warmer climates is a paradox because the grape is historically inclined to ripen too much before the growing season ends, causing a loss of acidity and drying out of the fruit. (Think of a green pepper’s taste versus one that is fully ripe and red.) Yet in these days of global warming and other factors that are changing wine production, these considerations might not apply at all. While you’ll still need to be careful and watch that CS doesn’t overripen, the latest global trends in wine production indicate that CS is emerging as a popular wine grape for summer, and even for growing in warmer climates.


The age-ability of red wines can be a controversial topic. Many wine experts say that wine improves with age, while others argue that it is ready to be consumed at the moment of bottling. Although it may seem like a simple question, the answer is based on several scientific principles.

The first thing you notice about cabernet sauvignon is its color, which ranges from dark purple to brick red. It is a deep-colored wine that is often described as a “serious” wine because it is full-bodied and full of flavor, which makes it a wine you want to sip and savor, rather than drink. The other thing you notice about cabernet sauvignon is its aging potential. This is a wine that can be mellow and smooth if it is aged for 10 – 20 years, but if it is not aged, it is a fairly harsh red wine that is best consumed young.

Furthermore, Cabernet Sauvignon is absolutely fantastic, not just for its beautiful aromas of black currants and boysenberries, and lovely floral elements as well but because of its age-ability. You can age it for years, for decades. Some of the best Cab Savs can live up to a hundred years old, if not longer in the cellar, if kept well, of course.

When it’s in its youth you can be expecting these beautiful boysenberries, blackberries, and black currants. Moving on through its aging process in the cellar, you can start to see more plums and lushness. Then moving on to, sort of, cocoa and licorice and chocolate flavors. And rich coffee flavors as well. Afterward, as it moves on you start to see these dried currants, dried figs, prunes, and raisins.

Complex, aromatic and vibrant

It has a full-bodied taste with thick and durable skinned berries. Cabernet Sauvignon can form a fruit-forward and dry wine with a noticeable and interesting, fine-grained tannin structure and a combination of acidity, freshness, and alcoholic strength when vinified correctly. Its red and black fruit flavors give a complex, very aromatic, and vibrant wine. Cab Sav can be grown in a diverse spectrum of climates. It has risen to a high level of prestige and prominence in the international wine community. And it is known for the world’s most robust red wines.

Winemakers are not afraid to barrel down Cabernet Sauvignon for up to two years to add small doses of oxygen to soften the tannins and help polymerize, the results are always of great value. It is a grape with which it is very hard to produce a worthless wine.

High-level Tannins

Tannins are responsible for the dryness of wines, and as such, wines made from grape varieties that are high in tannins often have the reputation of being dry. The most notable grape variety for producing wines with high acidity levels and high tannin levels is the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The reason for this is that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape tends to have a smaller berry size, which produces tannins, which are responsible for the dryness of the wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its high tannin levels, which make it taste dry and bitter; tannin in wine is a natural preservative, but it also protects the wine’s flavor during the aging process. However, the tannins in some wines can be too strong, which can leave a dry, unpleasant taste in your mouth. To avoid this, it’s best to drink your Cabernet Sauvignon with food. (Avoid pairing it with seafood, as the wine can overpower the fish.)

Food pairing

Red wines are good with food. If you like Pinot Noir, chances are you will like Cabernet Sauvignon as well. Cabernet Sauvignon is great with a wide variety of foods, but we tend to like it best with meat. Its tannin really helps to cut through the fattiness that you get from a rib-eye or a lamb chop. This wine pairs well with medium-cooked meat, hard cheeses, and chocolate.

Make sure to steer clear of starchy foods, such as pasta and rice, when pairing with dry red wine. These foods will overpower the tannins and leave your wine tasting flat.

Important rule: Any foods that are rich and dense tend to go really well with wines that are rich and dense.

What kind of glass should Cab Sav be served in?

The traditional glass is known as a Bordeaux glass or a cabernet glass, but it tends to be a thinner, taller red wine glass. The aromatics from Cabernet tend to be very rich and powerful so if you put it in a glass that’s too wide it can almost overstimulate the aromatics.

Why drink Cabernet Sauvignon?

The answer is simple: it’s real. The wine world is full of pretentious, pedantic wines, often from less-than-honest winemakers who will say anything to sell their wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, however, is a wine that sometimes doesn’t need a lot of talk to sell itself. All you need is a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, a glass, and perhaps a steak and a side of garlic fries, and you have a pretty darn good time.