Pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with Food
For many, Cabernet Sauvignon is the wine of kings. It
is a complex and full bodied red wine meant for equally challenging and bold
dishes. While in many countries it’s often a key varietal for blends, such
as the famous Bordeaux wines of France or Super Tuscans of Italy, in this
article we will focus on Cabernet Sauvignon as a single varietal
Sauvignon is not meant for light and delicate dishes; in fact the wine will
simply crush the meal, spoiling the flavours of the dish. Among its heavy
duty flavours are blackberry, black currant, plum, eucalyptus, mint, violet,
black tea, dusty earth, cedar, tobacco, coffee bean, mocha, chocolate, vanilla
and cut wood.
Cabernet Sauvignon is also full of
and high levels of alcohol, and when paired against fish, or vegetables, it will
have nothing to counterbalance the bitterness of the wine, making the pairing
unpleasant. If you’re a vegetarian, fear not, it does pair well with
bitter vegetables like eggplant, arugula
or radicchio. As the bitter
nature complements one another, the bitterness found in each component is
Instead you want dishes overflowing in protein and fat
to tame the tannins, and mesh with all of rich flavours of the wine.
Popular meats are steak, ostrich, buffalo, squab, wild pheasant, and duck.
You don’t want to overcook the meats if you’re pairing to Cabernet Sauvignon, as
you’ll have less fat and protein components to tame the tannins within.
this wine loves fat and protein, it doesn’t particularly love fish fats or
cheese fats. With fish, the oil simply does not tame the tannin in this
wine, and will instead make the food and wine seem unpleasant and off.
There are exceptions to the rule, meaty fishes, that aren’t overly oily go great
with Cabernet Sauvignon. Tuna, Swordfish and Shark when grilled will pair
up quite nicely with this chewy red wine.
As for cheese, the standard rule of
‘matching intensity’ does not apply. Cabernet is best served with mild to
moderate cheeses. If you pair this wine with heavy blue vein cheeses, the
pairing will seem more like a showdown in your mouth, with the wine and the
cheese duking it out to see who can win in capturing your attention.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a dark red wine, select dark and rich sauces like a dark
mushroom sauce, red wine reductions, or a hearty peppercorn sauce.
A young Cabernet Sauvignon loves grilled dishes, as the charred nature of the
meat mirrors the bitter edge of the tannin in the wine. When you combine
these two flavours, you’ll find the bitterness of both the meat and the wine are
significantly reduced allowing you to enjoy each component that much more.
The full body of a Cabernet Sauvignon also loves ‘thick’ dishes like hearty beef
stews, or braised ribs. Although we mentioned above the Cabernet Sauvignon
does not love fish, if you served this wine with a pepper crusted grilled tuna
steak, the pairing would be spectacular.
As Cabernet Sauvignon ages,
the tannin in the wine mellows making Cabernet Sauvignon a great pair with
straightforward dishes such as beef stew, pot roast, or grilled veal or
Although there are cocoa and vanilla flavours found in this wine, stay
far away from chocolate. Chocolate is simply too sweet to pair with
Cabernet Sauvignon as the wine is far too dry (given its high alcohol
level) If you must pair the two together, stick with a bitter and
semisweet chocolate, or a not so sweet mole-sauce.