In terms of sheer popularity, Cabernet Sauvignon (often blended with rival Merlot) is the king of the red varietals. Big and bold, and often rich with tannins, Cabernet Sauvignon makes its presence clearly known on the table, and is a classic pairing with beef, lamb and aromatic cheeses.
The rise of Cabernet Sauvignon is due in part to its adaptability to a variety of climates and conditions, making the vines easier to grow and maintain through the cultivation process than, say, Pinot Noir. It is grown successfully at latitudes as high as 50 degrees north (Okanagan in Canada) and 20 degrees south (Northern Argentina.)
It is a very common blending partner with Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere (the latter three being components classically found in a Bordeaux blend.) In the United States, sometimes you’ll hear Cabernet Sauvignon shortened to just “Cab” or “Cab Sav”.
Cabernet Sauvignon has found a solid home in the hills of Napa Valley, California, but also France, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Argentina, New Zealand and Spain. Surprisingly, it’s a rather new varietal, the result of a chance marriage between Cabernet franc (red) and Sauvignon blanc (white) in the 17th century in southeastern France. It has enjoyed widespread popularity. On the flipside, it’s sometimes known as a “colonizer” that takes over wine regions at the expense of other grape varieties.
What pairs particularly well with Cabernet Sauvignon?
- Beef, especially grilled, roasted or stewed
- Braised dishes like braised lamb or venison
- Cheese, especially aromatic ones like Roquefort, Blue and Camembert varietals
- Filet mignon
- Fois gras and truffles
- Roasted eggplant
- Game and game birds
- Lamb, especially roasted or rack of lamb
- Osso Bucco
- Black pepper
- Korean-style beef
- Many dishes featuring the flavors of onions and mushrooms
- Pasta dishes, especially with cream sauces
- Short ribs
Combinations to Avoid
- Tangy, sour dishes
- Light seafood
- Lemony dishes
- Extremely spicy dishes
- Delicate dishes
This is part of our ongoing series on food & wine pairings here at BigOven. At BigOven, we know that some foods just go together. That’s why we’ve introduced Menus, which let you drag and drop recipes to create ideal combinations, share them with the world and create grocery lists instantly. We’ve created a Cabernet Sauvignon recipe listing on BigOven that you can simply add to menus.
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