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Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Profile You Will Love – The Ultimate Guide

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular red wines in the world. It’s loved for its full body, intense black fruit and herbaceous aromas, and its ability to age extremely well. Let’s find out more!

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape in the world. It’s known for its intense black fruit and green bell pepper aromas. It’s able to age extremely well thanks to its high acidity and tannins. You can find Cabernet Sauvignon as a single varietal or blended with other grapes. The finest bottles are from Bordeaux in France and Napa in California.

It grows best in moderate to warm climates where grapes can ripen fully. The climate affects its taste profile. Green bell pepper aroma is typical of the cool climate. In warm climates, black fruit flavors become cooked in character. 

Have you ever found yourself staring at many Cabernet Sauvignon bottles wondering which one you would like best? Keep reading and you’ll find the answer and much more! 

I’ve organized the content below in small sections to make it easy to read. I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. As always wine tasting was my favorite part!😋  

Use the table of content below to jump straight to the section. In this article you’ll learn more about:

Keep reading to become a Cabernet Sauvignon expert!

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Overview

Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon

ABV

13%–15%

Main Regions

France: Bordeaux, South of France
USA: California (Napa Valley, Sonoma)

Other Regions

Australia
Chile
Italy
New Zealand
South Africa
USA: Washington

Grape

Cabernet Sauvignon

ABV

13%–15%

Main Regions

France: Bordeaux, South of France
USA: California (Napa Valley, Sonoma)

Other Regions

Australia
Chile
Italy
New Zealand
South Africa
USA: Washington

Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Profile

These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Color

Deep Ruby

Nose

Blackcurrant, Black Raspberry, Black Cherry
Leather
Nutmeg
Baking Spice
Cedar

Palate

Violets, Mint
Black Fruit
Green Bell Pepper,
Graphite
Dry
High Acidity
High Tannins
Full Body

Color

Deep Ruby

Nose

Blackcurrant, Black Raspberry, Black Cherry
Leather
Nutmeg
Baking Spice
Cedar

Palate

Violets, Mint
Black Fruit
Green Bell Pepper,
Graphite
Dry
High Acidity
High Tannins
Full Body

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing

These are some food pairing suggestions for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Appetitizer

Mushroom Pizza,
Peppery Souces,
Stew

Meat

Rich Grilled Meats,
Marinated Ribeye Steak,
Braised Short Ribs,
Stroganoff

Fish

-

Cheese

Blue Cheese
Semi-Hard (Comte)

Appetitizer

Mushroom Pizza,
Peppery Souces,
Stew

Meat

Rich Grilled Meats,
Marinated Ribeye Steak,
Braised Short Ribs,
Stroganoff

Fish

-

Cheese

Blue Cheese
Semi-Hard (Comte)

Serve and Store Cabernet Sauvignon

Decant

1 to 2 hrs

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years
10+ years finest bottles only

Decant

1 to 2 hrs

Glass

Bordeaux

Serve at

59 - 64 °F
15 - 18 °C

Store for

Up to 5 years
10+ years finest bottles only

Useful Insight

Regions and winemaking techniques influence Cabernet Sauvignon taste profiles. Here is a quick overview for some regions and what to expect:

  • Australia (Margaret River) flavors: bay leaf, black plum, spice (white pepper), graphite, chocolate.

  • California (Napa) flavors: mint, black currant, blackberry, spice (black pepper), graphite, tobacco.

  • Chile (Maipo Valley, Colchagua Valley) flavors: black cherry, blackberry, fig, baking spices.

  • France flavors: violets, black currant, plum, graphite, tobacco, licorice. Cabernet Sauvignon is typically blended with other grapes, aka “Bordeaux Blend”. If you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon dominant wine, pick bottles from the Left Bank: 
    • Médoc AOC [1]
    • Haut-Médoc AOC (Margaux AOC, Pauillac AOC)
    • Graves AOC (Pessac-Léognan AOC).

A little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon history

Cabernet Sauvignon is an offspring of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc [2] originated in the 17th century. Its origin was discovered in 1996, at the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology [3].

It has been popular in the Médoc region in France since the 18th century. 1976 is an important date for California’s wine. That’s the date on which Stags’ Leap Cabernet Sauvignon won the blind taste test in Paris beating a top French wine. From this day on, Napa Cabernet Sauvignon gained tremendous popularity.

Today Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape in the world.

What does Cabernet Sauvignon mean?

Cabernet Sauvignon means “wild” Cabernet. “Sauvignon” is a French word that derives from “souvage”, i.e. wild, since the vines are reminiscent of wild grapevines.

Where does Cabernet Sauvignon grow best?

Cabernet Sauvignon grows best in moderate to warm climates to help the long ripening of the grape. When unripe, Cabernet Sauvignon is unpleasantly high in tannins. This is why in cooler areas, it is generally blended with other grapes. Blending and oak aging are the common techniques used to soften Cabernet Sauvignon high tannins.

Here are the typical taste profiles depending on the climate: 

  • Cool (Bordeaux): green bell pepper, mint, black currant, and cedar

  • Moderate/Warm (California): black cherry, black currant, black olive.

  • Very Hot (Chile): flavors become more cooked and “jammy”

When is the perfect time to drink Cabernet Sauvignon?

Are you hosting or going to a dinner with high-fat food and big umami flavors? Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect match for it!

Some curiosities about Cabernet Sauvignon

  • There is an International Cabernet Sauvignon day and it’s the Thursday before the US Labor Day weekend each year.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon’s ability to age well comes from his naturally high level of acidity and tannins. They work as natural preservatives and allow very good and outstanding bottles to mature for ages.

  • One of the most famous Cabernet Sauvignon blend is Bordeaux wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is part of the so called six “Bordeaux Varietals”. These are: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot.

  • Have you ever heard of “Super Tuscan” wines? Well, this is yet another famous Cabernet Sauvignon blend with Merlot and Syrah. “Super Tuscan” is the name used to differentiate them from the other Tuscan wine made with indigenous grapes, like Chianti.

  • Do you know what’s the highest price paid for Cabernet Sauvignon to date? Well, sit tight…. It’s $500,000 for an imperial size bottle (6L) of 1992 Screaming Eagle sold at a charity auction in 2000.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon green bell pepper aroma comes from the methoxypyrazine compound.

What’s Cabernet Sauvignon's typical price range?

There’s a Cabernet Sauvignon for every pocket. The price varies considerably and quickly reach $1,000+ for the finest bottles. 

  • Good quality Cabernet Sauvignon at around $15-$30. Look for Australia, Chile, California (Sonoma), South Africa, and Washington bottles.

  • Up to $100 you can get great bottles from California, Australia, and Italy.

  • As you go for French and Napa finest bottles the price will quickly skyrocket towards $1,000 and above.

What to do next?

Be sure to serve your Cabernet Sauvignon at the right temperature. Read our wine tasting guide to enhance your tasting experience and taste like the pro! Alternatively, why don’t you check out our guides on Merlot, Pinot Noir, or the other red wines?

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