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Cabernet Sauvignon

The Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine grape variety and the product of a grafting of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes have thicker skins than most grapes and the vines are hardy and low yielding. Their late bud break makes them resistant to early spring frost, and their heartiness allows them to be resistant to most hazards, including rot and insects.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown around the world, mostly in warmer climates that feature cool evenings. The grape also goes by the names Bouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet, Petit-Cabernet, Petit-Vidure, and Sauvignon Rouge. In California, Cabernet Sauvignon is cultivated in Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Central Coast. Worldwide, the grape grows in Bordeaux, Tuscany, South America, South Africa and Australia. 

The Wine

The king of all red wine, Cabernet Sauvignon typically exhibits strong, deep flavors of clove, plum, chocolate, and black cherries. The aromas of tobacco, vanilla, and black currant also feature prominently in a California Cabernet. Winemakers using grapes grown in other regions may sometimes develop exciting, different herbal aromas such as mint, eucalyptus, or thyme. Cabernet Sauvignon is a varietal that depends greatly on when picked. When picked early, the grape can exhibit a pronounced green bell pepper flavor. If Cabernet is left on the vine too long, it often can taste almost sweet and jammy.

Cabernet has a strong tanning structure and complex flavors that will soften and develop over time. Cabernet is the most expensive wine to produce given its low yields of fruit and the length of time necessary to develop complexity. 

Perfect Pairings

Cabernet Sauvignon is bold and assertive with a tendency to dominate the palate. As a result, light and delicate flavors will be overwhelmed by the wine and make for poor partners. The wine's tannin structure, higher alcohol content, and oak influences are the determining elements when pairing Cabernet with foods. Tannins latch onto fats and proteins making foods featuring them a good match. When paired with beef, fat, butter or cream, the tannins are neutralized, allowing the flavors of the wine to feature prominently.