Often referred to as the “King of Red Wine Grapes,” Cabernet Sauvignon wines (aka Cabernets or Cabs, for short) range from medium- to full-bodied and are characterized by their high tannin content, which provides structure while supporting the rich fruit characteristics.
Flavors and aromas you’re likely to find in Cabs include plum, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, black currant, cassis, mint, eucalyptus, cedarwood, vanilla, tobacco and leather.
Cabs pair beautifully with red meats, hearty pastas, lamb, strong-flavored cheese, especially blue cheese, and dark chocolates.
Here is a Q&A highlighting some key information about this wonderful grape and wine.
Q: Where is the grape from originally, and where is it grown now?
A: Cabernet originates in the Bordeaux region of France (Western Central France) and is now grown in nearly every major wine-producing country.
Q: Who were the parents of Cabernet?
A: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. These two varietals were crossed in the 17th century in southwestern France.
Q: Why is Cab so popular?
A: Besides the fact that the wine tastes so great, Cabernet is a relatively easy grape to cultivate. It is hardy and resistant to rot and frost. Also, many Cabernet wines are age worthy and can be laid down for a good five to 10 years.
Q: Why is Cab such an age-worthy wine?
A: The Cab grape is a thick-skinned, tiny grape. Most of the tannin in wine comes from the grape skin. Tannin is a key aging factor in wine. The grape’s thick skin and high skin-to-juice ratio give the wine a lot of tannin, making it very age worthy. The high level of tannin can make a young Cabernet a bit challenging to drink. It can taste bitter and out of balance. (Think about the experience of drinking a cup of Lipton tea that has steeped for too long. Black tea has tannin in it too.) By laying down an age-worthy Cabernet, you give the wine the time it needs to mature and reach its peak. The tannins mellow out a bit, and you end up with a well balanced, beautiful wine.
Cabernet is my favorite red wine. Is it yours? If it is, why do you like it so much? If it isn’t, what red wines do you like more? How long do you typically age your Cabernets?