A Study in Wine — Cabernet Sauvignon

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Which Wine Is Right for You?

This is the first in a series of blogs that will focus solely on a different grape variety. Each blog will answer five basic questions that I am asked every day about the wine, including what it tastes like, what to pair it with and which ones are my favorite. Hopefully, you will learn something you didn’t know about the wine and give it a chance! My first in the series starts with my personal favorite grape variety, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon

 

What is it?

Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s hard to believe that the reigning king of grapes is a hybrid. Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of proud parents Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. It has kept the title of king because of its longevity, powerful richness and depth.

Where does is grow?

Some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon comes from France, where it is almost always blended with Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals, including Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The French believe that the hearty tannic structure of Cabernet Sauvignon marries well with the soft, supple qualities of Merlot. In California, however, with its long, warm growing season, Cabernet Sauvignon (though often blended) shines very well on its own.

Because of its thick, resilient skin, Cabernet Sauvignon can be found all over the world. Italy, Chile, Australia and Washington all have some world-class Cabernets. Cab, as it’s often called, grows well in areas with lots of warmth, sunlight and a long growing season.

What does it taste like?

The primary fruit flavors found in Cab are cassis (black currants), blackberry, black cherry and plum. Non-fruit flavors are sage, anise and eucalyptus. Oak aging lends cedar, vanilla and toasty oak flavors.

What do I pair it with?

Cabernet Sauvignon has a lot of tannin. Tannin dries your mouth, making it feel a bit sand-papery. If you eat something with a high fat content, like cheese or steak, it coats your mouth, softening the tannic sensation, leaving only the rich flavors above on your tongue.

Cab is a big, bold wine that can stand up to all sorts of flavorful foods. Cheeses that pair well are aged Gouda, Gorgonzola and sharp Cheddar. Stay away from intensely spicy food since the high tannin and spicy characteristics will be overblown and clash.

Which are your favorites?

  • Terra Noble Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua, Chile 2008 $17.99

Blended with 10-percent Carmenere for a spicy kick, this cab has cherry and blackberry flavors, with violets and tobacco on the finish.

  • Dessert Wind Cabernet Sauvignon Wahluke Slope, Washington 2009 $16.99

Spicy cedar and cherry on the nose. Rich and complex with licorice, plums and blackberry, this wine is very well structured.

  • Meyer Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, California  2006 $42.99

World-renowned winemaker Mark Harold has put his mark on this delicious Cab. A California Cab in every sense, it has a rich and concentrated color, with black flowers on the nose. A soft and silky mouth feel and loads of ripe blackberry and cassis lead to a long finish, with hints of cocoa and cigar box.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold, flavorful wine that has won the hearts of many wine drinkers. Even though I love all types of wine, I always go back to Cab. I hope you learned a little about Cabernet Sauvignon and will try out some my favorites!

Enjoy!

– Jennifer Laurie