Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red grape often used to make fine varietal wine, but it is also blended with grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon wine can range from medium body to full body depending on their tannin content. Flavor or aroma of this wine depends on the ripeness of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes during harvesting. So Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at different stages of ripening are often used by wineries. Usually Cabernet Sauvignon wine has a plum, vanilla, or blackberry flavor. A great example of this varietal wine is that produced by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in California.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Hendry Winery tour

Origin of Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is a relatively new variety of red grape, and DNA typing has revealed that it was created by a fortunate crossing of the Cabernet franc and Sauvignon Blanc which happened sometime during the 17th century. Prior to the DNA typing, Cabernet Sauvignon was thought to have ancient origins and some even thought it originated from wild vines. In fact its name “Sauvignon” is based on the French word for wild which is “sauvage”. It was even thought to be referred by Pliny the elder as the Biturica grape, which was used to create wine during the period of the Roman Empire.

Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon

Stag's Leap Wine CellarsCabernet Sauvignon FAY 1997

Regions Producing Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon is an extremely popular grape, often referred to as “King of the Red Wine grape” as it is easy to cultivate and can thrive in a diverse climatic conditions. This has led to it being cultivated in many areas of the world namely:

  1. France – Here the Cabernet Sauvignon is often found in the Bordeaux region which is viewed as the point of origin for this grape. It is also grown in the Le Midi and in the Loire Valley.
  2. Italy- Here this grape has been in cultivation since its introduction during the 1820s. It was often used as part of the “Super Tuscan” wine in Tuscany.
  3. Spain – Cabernet Sauvignon was first introduced into the Rioja region of Spain and soon grew to become one of the most popular red grape varieties in the country. Among the many regions in Spain where this grape is cultivated Navarra has become world famous for its varietal wines.
  4. Germany – In Germany this grape is mostly grown in the Mosel region where it has to compete with the more popular Riesling.
  5. Bulgaria – This grape helped to establish the wine industry in this country. Most Cabernet Sauvignon wine from Bulgaria is inexpensive but highly valued.
  6. United States – In California, Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on mountain slopes and valleys such as Central Valley. Each location gives these grapes different flavors, for instance vineyards on hillsides produce smaller berries with strong flavors. Hence this grape has a unique style and characterization and has helped make American’s wines popular internationally. It is also cultivated in the Columbia Valley area of Washington State and used to produce the famous Quilceda Creek Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

Roast Lamb Shoulder

Linguine ai Frutti di Mare at Buon Appetito

Preparation of Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon when used to make Cabernet Sauvignon wine should be ripe; because at this stage they have full flavor and tannins are smoother. Cabernet Sauvignon should be moved as fast as possible into fermentation and they should be transported in a cool environment. All skins should be retained intact before the fermentation process begins, and seeds should not be squashed as this will affect the taste of the wine. Cold soaking method for preparing Cabernet Sauvignon is advised, but it is up to winery to decide on what process to use. After cold soaking is complete yeast such as Prise de Mousse can be added but care should be taken to keep the temperature of the must above 131° C. During the fermentation process, the cap of skins and grape should be pushed into the must frequently in a gentle manner. Cooler temperatures during fermentation often result in a fruiter Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Some wineries add malo-lactic bacteria at this stage to start secondary fermentation. Fining agents such as egg whites are also used to collect proteins and other solid matter from the wine. After which the wine can be put into oak barrels so that malo- lactic fermentation can finish and it can age.

Braised Pork Belly - Auction Rooms Cafe AUD15.50 - photo by Julia

Venison chops

Food Pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon can be paired well with red meats, and pastas with strong flavors. As Cabernet Sauvignon wine is assertive especially when it is young it can overwhelm delicately flavored dishes. However, as Cabernet Sauvignon ages, it can be paired with different foods that have been roasted or grilled.

Italian Meatloaf with Macaroni and Cheese

Aging/Serving Cabernet Sauvignon Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon ages well in the bottle and in particular Bordeaux wine can need up to ten years to age. However, most Cabernet Sauvignon wine can be approached with a few years of vintage.

roasted pork shoulder with chimichurri, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower

Cabernet Sauvignon – Trivia

Cabernet Sauvignon is now considered to be the most popular varietal red wine in America. It is so popular, that when people to refer to red wine they are probably referring to this wine.

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