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What is Cabernet Sauvignon? How to Drink and Serve

April 12, 2022

What is Cabernet Sauvignon: How to Drink and Serve


Delicious, slightly sweet, full bodied, but what is cabernet sauvignon? Sure you’ve had this beloved wine at a restaurant, parties and even at home. And when you are looking to buy wine online, there are important things to consider including taste, look, age, and price. So let’s dig deep into what this beloved wine is all about. We’ll talk about all the important stuff like how to serve and drink, the best Cabs at various prices, and other interesting facts!


Where Does Cabernet Sauvignon Come From?


The Cab grape is a hybrid grape that is quite versatile. Though it originated in Bordeaux, France, Cabernet Sauvignon is now produced all over the world. The Cabernet Sauvignon  variety was created by an accidental crossing that happened in the 17th century between Cabernet Franc, a deep red grape, and Sauvignon Blanc, a white grape.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are grown all around the world. Most notably, Cabs come from Napa Valley California where the climate is warm and hospitable to this late ripening grape. However some really great Cabs come from Washington state, France, Australia, South America and many others. Where Cabernet Sauvignon comes from does play a role in the subtle flavor differences, which takes us into the next part…

Where does cabernet sauvignon come from

Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux, France. However, it can now be found in many regions across the world. Most notably, Napa Valley, CA.




What Does Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Like?

Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied dark red wine. Its flavor profile varies widely and can range from notes of black pepper to sweet strawberries. There are over 3,500 varieties of Cab so the flavors of each bottle can be different based on many factors. Cabs can have any of the following flavor:

  • Black currant
  • Tobacco
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Chocolate
  • Truffle 
  • Cedar
  • Coffee 
  • Eucalyptus
  • Boysenberry
  • Pepper
  • Vanilla

According to the Masterclass article, Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like green bell peppers. That flavor comes from pyrazine. This chemical compound is found in the skin of the grape and some varieties have more pyrazine than others so the intensity of this flavor can vary.

So after you take a sip, ask yourself, what does this Cabernet Sauvignon taste like? You should be able to taste a variety of flavors!



How To Drink Cabernet Sauvignon

You’ve seen people swirl, sniff, sip, swish wine. But what is the proper way to drink Cabernet Sauvignon and truly savor all the flavors? Below we’ll explain the steps to drink Cabs properly according to expert sommeliers.

  1. Take a good look at the wine. Tilt the glass about 40 degrees and check the color and opacity. Some cabs will be darker than others. The opacity will also vary.
  2. Smell the wine. Hold the glass about half an inch away from your nose and take a deep inhale through your nose. What do you smell? It may take a few sniffs to understand all the various scents. What you smell in the wine will also come through what you taste.
  3. Take a small sip. Let it roll around your tongue and then let it sit for a second or two. What are the different notes and flavors you taste? Is it acidic? Sweet? Dry? Do you taste berries? Pepper? Vanilla? There are no right or wrong answers and people will taste different things as all of our taste buds vary.

Now you learned how to drink Cabs!



How To Serve Cabernet Sauvignon?

We can write an entire article on just how to serve Cabernet Sauvignon, but we’ll try to keep it short and sweet here. The way you serve a Cab can really impact the flavors and notes that come through.


First, let’s start with the temperature of the wine. Cabernet Sauvignons are best served between 55 to 65 degrees. This is what’s known as cellar temperature. The best option is to store your wine in a wine fridge but if you don’t have one, the next best thing is to put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Also remember to hold the wine glass by the stem as opposed to the bowl so that the wine doesn’t get warm from the heat of your hand.

Second, decant the wine. Do you wonder why your second glass of wine tastes better than the first? It’s not a coincidence. The oxidation process allows the wine to open up and become more lively. If you have a decanter, you should use it if you’re planning to drink the wine shortly after you open it. You should still let wine sit in the decanter for at least 30 minutes before drinking it.


However, if you have some time and don’t have a decanter handy, we suggest opening up the bottle and letting time work its magic. Give it about an hour and try it.


Third, choose a wine glass that has a wider bowl. Serving Cabernet Sauvignon in a larger bowl gives it more exposure to air thus allowing the flavors to get the full range of aromas. A glass with a larger bowl and a tapered rim works best for a full bodied Cab.


Use these methods to really impress your guests with how you serve Cabernet Sauvignon.


What Pairs Best With Cabernet Sauvignon?

Wine, if paired right, enhances the flavor of food. However, did you know that food can also enhance the flavor of wine? The acidity and different profiles of the wine interact with food to create new flavors that you wouldn’t otherwise experience with one or the other.

Since Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold, heavy wine, it’s best paired with heavier, richer dishes to complement the food rather than overwhelm it. Here are some dishes that pair great with a Cabernet Sauvignon:

  • Steak
  • Lamb
  • A juice burger
  • Charcuterie
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Cheese
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Dark Chocolate



What Are The Best Cabernet Sauvignons?

Ok so now you’ve learned all you need to know about serving and drinking Cabernet Sauvignon the right way. But how do you choose the right one? That really depends on several factors; budget being the one of the biggest. Here we’ll suggest our top picks for Cabs at various price points.


Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Josh Cellars Cabernet SauvignonThis is definitely a fan-favorite. It is full-bodie and rich with flavors of blackberries, roasted hazelnuts and hints of vanilla. This is a wine you can have any night of the week. With such a reasonable price (usually under $20), you don’t need a special occasion to open up a bottle of this fantastic wine.



Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet SauvignonAny wine loved is familiar with this brilliant wine. With its bold, dark color and flavors of cocoa, cassis, and dark red berries, it tantalizes the tastebuds. This wine is generally price at $100-115 and makes a great gift.


Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon

Duckhorn 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – 2019 brought another exceptional vintage to Napa Valley due to favorable weather conditions. This wine is aged 16 months in 100% French Oak barrels. This wine offers enticing aromas of huckleberry jam, black cherry and cinnamon spice making for beautifully rich and complex flavors in the mouth. 


Gnarlyhead 1924 Red Blend


Gnarly Head Double Black Cabernet Sauvignon Grab this limited edition bottle now, if you can! This wine has won many awards, including the winning the Gold from the Critics Challenge Wine Competition. At just under $15, it goes to show that price isn’t the only factor in determining what makes a great wine. 



Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon- 750ml

Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon From the Caymus family, this more affordable wine boasts flavors of  Blackberry, blueberry, vanilla, and toasted bread. Just under $25/bottle, this is a sophisticated wine at a very reasonable price.



Buena Vista Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml​​

Buena Vista Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon A fantastic mid-priced Cab. It drinks like a $100 bottle, but half its price. With notes of oak, vanilla, chocolate, and plum, it’s a rich, full-bodied wine with velvety smooth tannins.


Leese Fitch Cabernet Sauvignon

Leese Fitch Cabernet SauvignonA great cab for under $13! This wine has a lot of complexity and flavor.  This wine bursts with aromas of sweetened cranberry, cassis, toasted marshmallow, charred dill and roasted red pepper. It’s definitely a heartier wine so enjoy with heavier dishes like a steak or a burger.


How Many Calories are in a Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon?

So we’ve learned how to drink and serve Cabernet Sauvignon. Another question people ask quite often is how many calories are in a bottle of Cab?

There are about 600-615 calories in a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, so about 120 calories per 5oz glass. The number of calories doesn’t vary much from bottle to bottle because most of the calories come from alcohol not sugar or carbs. Actually most cabs have only 3-4 grams of carbs and about 1 gram of sugar. If you are looking for a low sugar wine, there are wines like FitVine Cabernet Sauvignon that have 3.9g of carbs and .06 grams of sugar per 5oz glass.


You now have the essential skills to drink and serve Cabernet Sauvignon. Choosing the right bottle for you will depend on your preferences. So we always say to try many different bottles and enjoy the process!

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