There’s no doubt that Mr. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular grapes around the world. He is also commonly known as Cab, Cabernet or Cab Sauv. However, don’t be confusing him with his siblings like Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. While they are related (see below) you definitely don’t want to get on his bad side.
He is one of those common grape varieties you will hear about when out and about at wineries or in bottle shops. However, today I am here to tell you that there is more to him than meets the eye/palate. When you look under that label, who knows, you may just find the Magic Mike of the wine world. Ladies brace yourselves.
Let’s get a few of the more-commonly known facts out-of-the-way first, before I spill the goss on Mr. CS.
- Cabernet is grown in nearly every major wine region around the globe
- Cab Sauv is often blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- Cab was discovered by chance when it was crossed with Cab Franc and Sauv Blanc
- Cab’s typically age well because ‘typically’ they are full-bodied in nature with big tannins
1. Yes Cabernet Day is a thing!
Yes, that’s right folks, there is an International Cabernet Day and yes you do need to celebrate. In 2010 fellow wino and marketing guru, Rick Bakas started up the hype on Twitter for #CabernetDay when he was working in the Napa Valley (California). Since 2010, it has now been celebrated not only in the USA but around the world on the Thursday before the US Labor Day every year.
You can check out my Wine Days Calendar for this year’s date (it typically falls at the end of August/start of September). Basically, the idea is to pop a bottle(s) of Cabernet and jump on social media, adding the hashtag #cabernetday to join in on all the fun.
2. There’s a White Cabernet (plus other relatives)!
As you know, Cabernet Sauvignon is a red grape variety. It has thick black skins if you take a look at the bunches of grapes on the vine. But what you may not know is that there is a ‘White Cabernet’. What’s even cooler, is that I actually currently live in the wine region where it was discovered! Who I am talking about is Mann Winery in Perth’s Swan Valley. This White Cabernet is also known as Cygne blanc. Technically it’s a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and an unknown hybrid grape variety.
Not only is there a White Cabernet but there are also numerous grape varieties that Cabernet has leant its genes to such as:
- French grape ‘Marselan’ is a cross between Cabernet and Grenache
- Souvignier Gris is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and the white German grape ‘Bronner’
3. Cabernet can taste like green capsicum, black olives and eucalyptus!
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you probably know that every wine is different – even if it is made from the same grape variety. Everything from the soil to the climate, to the winemaking techniques will impact how the end product will look, smell, and taste.
For instance, in cooler climates, you’ll find Cab’s have notes of blackcurrants, green capsicum (also described as herbaceousness/vegetal) and cedar wood. While in warmer regions you may pick up notes of black olives, blackberries, and black cherries. And sometimes you can even pick up hints of menthol and eucalyptus – which is actually quite common in the South Australian wine region of Coonawarra which I recently blogged about.
Moral of the story, don’t judge a Cabernet (or any wine for that matter), by its label. Be open to every wine, give it a go at least once and have an open mind.
Cabernet Descriptors at Whicher Ridge Wine Sensory Garden – Geographe, Western Australia
4. Cabernet matches food with oak-influenced flavors & aromas!
It’s probably no surprise to you that Cab Sauv has an affinity for oak. Typically during the winemaking process oak will be used during fermentation or the maturing stage (French and American are the most popular types of oak used alongside some Hungarian and even Croatian oak). The oak helps to soften the tannins in the wine and imparts lovely notes of vanilla and spice which compliments the flavours already in the wine.
So it makes sense that matching food with oak-influenced flavours and aromas would work with Cabernet. Think fresh vanilla pods, nutmeg, brown sugar and even dill.
Some of my other favourite food matches for Cab Sauv includes; dark chocolate, BBQ or smoked meat, cheeses like brie or cheddar, steak dishes, mushrooms, beef burgers, and it also pairs well with heavy butter cream sauces. Yum! Who’s hungry and thirsty now??
5. Cab Sauv has health benefits!
Studies by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in 2006 published that a compound in Cabernet (and other red wines) called resveratrol can reduce the risk factors of Alzheimer’s. The studies showed that the consumption of Cab Sauv reduced levels of amyloid beta peptides. These peptides are what attacks the brain cells in Alzheimer’s patients.
Not to mention all the other health benefits red wine in particular has.
6. Cabernet is grown in some unique locations!
It’s one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world and it can adapt to a number of climates. So it makes sense it’s grown in some more unfamiliar regions such as the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon.
In fact, when I was working in fine wine sales in Dubai, I use to sell wines from the likes of Chateau Musar and Massaya – the wines I tried were beautifully tasty too!
Not to mention the Chinese over in the Gobi Desert are growing a bit of Cab too!
7. Cabernet has many disguises!
If you see any of these grape varieties – guess what? They’re Cabernet Sauvignon!
- Sauvignon Rouge
It’s very rare to see the above mentioned anywhere, but if you do – now you know!
So there you have it guys, I hope you’ve learned a few new things about one of the Kings of the wine world and now have a thirst for cracking a bottle or two of Cab tonight. Enjoy!