The wine industry is one of the most fragmented industries in the world. And for a newbie, the world of wine can be staggering. With more than a thousand varieties of grapes used to make wine, it’s no surprise there are so many different types of red wine. With such an overwhelming amount of choice, it’s so hard to know what to buy. But even if you are not a wine aficionado, you have probably heard about Cabernet Sauvignon, the world’s most popular red wine.
What Kind of Wine Is a Cabernet Sauvignon?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry dark red wine with a full body and alcohol content of over 13.5%. This red wine is one of the most versatile wines which makes it a reliable choice for housewarming, dining out with friends or simply unwinding at home. If you are in the mood for a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, here’s what you should know about it.
Cabernet Sauvignon Characteristics and Taste Profile
Cabernet Sauvignon is an accidental cross-breeding between two grape varieties – the red Cabernet Franc and white Sauvignon Blanc – from Bordeaux, France. Often called “Cab” for short, this grape is known for its thick skin, resilience against the elements, and ability to grow in nearly every wine-producing country in a range of climates.
As a red grape that matures slowly, Cabernet Sauvignon grows best in warm climates like the gravely soils in Bordeaux, France and Napa Valley, California. Other notable wine regions include Tuscany (Italy), Coonawarra (Australia), Maipo Valley (Chile) as well as Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand. Such disparate latitudes and its adaptability to different soil types and climates are the major contributions to Cabernet Sauvignon’s rise to dominance.
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape has a deep colour, stable tannin structure and moderate acidity. The healthy level of tannins in this red wine means it evolves to obtain a full-bodied, rich flavour that may feel sharper if you choose to sip it by itself, but is fantastic for drinking with food. The Cab red wine is particularly loved for its high concentration and age-worthiness. It has an alcohol content of over 13.5%, with certain varieties featuring over 15% ABV, which is pretty much higher than the average glass of wine at 12% ABV. The Cab often ages well so you can keep a bottle of this red wine in your wine cellar for 7 to 10 years on average.
What Does Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Taste Like?
Each type of wine grape develops a unique combination of flavours and aromas that are influenced by things like the climate and soil, the fermentation process and maturation. Given that it is grown in a wide range of climates and regions throughout the world, red Cabernet Sauvignon has varied flavours. Some wines are lavish and fruity, others are savoury and with smoke flavour. But generally, Cabernet Sauvignon has dark fruit flavours of blackcurrant (cassis), black cherry, blackberry, along with notes of green bell pepper, spice, tobacco, wood, and a slight note of vanilla steaming from the process of aging in oak barrels.
Its strong and deep taste makes Cabernet Sauvignon the perfect complement to rich grilled meats, peppery sauces, and dishes with high flavour. The proteins in meats break down the tannins in this red wine, while its acidity cuts through the fatty richness, hence balancing your palate. It’s recommended to avoid pairing this wine with pasta and rice because the starches won’t mellow out the harsh tannins in the wine.
Popular Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Blends
A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is rare these days because winemakers are great at blending varietals together. Actually, this grape initially attracted attention in France for its ability to blend with the Bordeaux varieties. These grapes include Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carménère, and Sauvignon Blanc. What is interesting is that all of these varieties share the common presence of an aromatic compound group also found in the green bell pepper.
In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are very similar so it can be difficult to identify between the two. To confuse matters further, both blend nicely with other grapes, too. However, they each still have their own strengths and hallmark characteristics. In addition to Merlot, the Cab wine is frequently blended with Petit Verdot, Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Sangiovese.