Hello Team Fabio! Today I want to talk to you guys about Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the most prolific and important red wines in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon was not the varietal of wine the monks made hundreds of years ago, but it has a rich history despite being a relatively newer grape variety. In fact, Cabernet Sauvignon is the offspring of two other famous grape varietals, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc (clever name, right!?). As a grape with thick skin that resiliently grows virtually anywhere, Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that is produced in almost every major wine region in the world! Cabernet Sauvignon continues to thrive as an important member of the wine ecosystem, and I feel compelled to spread the good word about Cabernet Sauvignon!
Let’s chat about what Cab tastes like. I think Cabernet Sauvignon (“Cab” for short) inherited many of the best qualities from its parents. It typically has the big, bold body of Cabernet Franc and the nice acidity and elegance from the Sauvignon Blanc. Generally speaking, Cab has dark fruit flavors and savory tastes like black pepper. But this is generally speaking, as Cabernet is grown all over the world. To really understand Cabernet Sauvignon, we need to break down the Cabs from what we in the industry call the “old world” (i.e. wine produced in Europe and the Middle East) and the “new world” (wine produced in America, Australia and South America).
In the old world, Cab is often blended with another varietal. This might help smooth out any characteristics of the wine that are too bold or pronounced. As a result, Cab from Bordeaux (France) taste a little more earthy, with interesting notes like tobacco on the finish. When you smell a Cab-based Bordeaux, you’ll often get hints of black cherries along with the earthiness. It all comes together with a long lasting finish with many subtle flavors.
Cabs from the new world are generally a touch fruitier than the Cabs from the old world. Very common flavors include dark fruit and black cherry. My favorite trait in new world Cabs is that they tend to have a nice vanilla component. I’d also say they have a little less tannin and acidity, but also have more alcohol. This is because the fruit may have more exposure to the sun (especially in California), resulting in more sugar, which results in more alcohol.
Now that we covered the general tastes of Cabernet Sauvignon, I think it’s just as important to tell you how I pair this wonderful wine! Since Cab typically always has bold flavors and big tannins, you need to pair it with foods that are also bold and with more umami. The classic pairing I love is with a marbled ribeye, because the acidity of the wine cuts right through the fat and enhances the steak!
Some of you are probably thinking ‘that’s an easy pairing,’ so let me offer up a couple other go-to pairings. Cabernet Sauvignon with a charbroiled burger with sharp cheese will also be a home run. If you’re not feeling beef, try a truffle and mushroom pizza. A word to the wise: don’t pair Cab with chocolate! Some people do this, but in my opinion the chocolate might mask the fruit flavors instead of enhancing them.
The last bit of advice I’ll leave you with are some of my favorite Cabernet Sauvignon wines. First and foremost, I would be remiss not to mention my own Cabernet Sauvignon from the Fabio Viviani Wine Collection. It is produced in Sonoma County, California, and has a lot of the wonderful fruit and vanilla components we discussed earlier. I’m very proud of how our Cab was crafted. Some other Cabs I love that are worth trying and not too expensive are:
- Decoy (Sonoma)
- Bogle (California)
- Reynoso Family Vineyards (Alexander Valley)
- Hahn Family Wines
Now that you are armed with Cab knowledge, I want to know what you think! Do you enjoy the old world Cabs from France or the new world styles you might find in California? Are you pairing Cab with a big juicy steak or maybe a mushroom pizza? As I always say America, drink what you like and don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s always great taking suggestions from the pros, but at the end of the day, you are spending hard earned dollars for wines you should enjoy. #Wine101