What is Cabernet?
Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid favorite red wine around the world. It’s one of the most popular and widely grown grapes in the world, and is a dark, thick-skinned red wine grape with complex and bold flavors. It plays well with oak and is sturdy enough to age beautifully.
Cabernet Sauvignon is high in tannins, acid, and phenolics (chemical building blocks that account for taste and color in wine). It’s this trifecta that accounts for the ability for this wine to age well; younger Cabs can be harsh, and time spent in oak can make an incredible difference.
Another way to smooth and soften out some of these more pronounced characteristics is to blend wine, and Cabernets are frequently found blended with softer varietals such as Merlot for this reason. Wines blended with Cabernet Sauvignon can spend decades in a cellar, aging exceptionally well.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over the world, including France’s Bordeaux region, the United States’ Napa Valley, and, as is the case with your Piattelli insert, the Mendoza region of Argentina.
Fun Facts About Cab Sauv
DNA matching in 1966 revealed that Cabernet Sauvignon was likely the accidental lovechild of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Legend has it that Cardinal Richelieu’s fields of Cabernet Franc meandered their way into fields of Sauvignon Blanc near the Abbey of Bourgueil and cross-pollinated their way into Cabernet Sauvignon.
In order to pair Cabernet Sauvignon with food, it is necessary to remember that this is most often a rich and complex wine and deserves food that will stand up to it. You need fat and protein to balance the tannins, think rare cuts of beef, buffalo, squab, or duck. If you are talking sauces, think rich and heavy like peppercorn, mushroom or a red wine reduction. There are a few bitter vegetables that can hold their own like arugula, radicchio and eggplant but most vegetables and lighter dishes will be blown away by a good Cabernet. If you are thinking dessert, stay away from the sweet and aim towards the bitter.
Cabernet Sauvignon Pairing Notes
Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its crimson color and complex, concentrated flavors such as black currant, cherry, blackberries, and blueberries as well as earthier notes such as aromas of chocolate, coffee, cedar, and tobacco.
How to Pair Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon holds up well with rich, flavorful meats like salted and peppered rare-to-medium-rare steak, duck breast, and dark meat chicken with heavy, reduced sauces. Vegetarian? Try mushroom ragout or grilled veggies.
For desserts, try dark, rich chocolates and nutty desserts with bitter notes. For instance, grab a handful of almonds and dark chocolate chips, a glass of Cab, and you’ll thank me.
Meat: Duck, lamb, wild game – anything red and braised, roasted or grilled.
Cheese pairings should be strong and sturdy, like the wine. Try Bleu cheese, aged gouda, or smoked cheddar.