Ultimate Cabernet Sauvignon Food Guide [20 Divine Pairings]
Cabernet Sauvignon is, without a doubt, the most popular wine in the world. Its full body, plush tannins, and unmistakably bold fruit flavor make it an ideal wine for pairing with everything from oxtail to étouffée to the common dinner salad.
This guide covers everything you need to know about making the perfect Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing.
With tasting notes, regional differences, pairing tips, and tons of recommendations, we’ve got you covered!
What Does Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Like?
To build the perfect pairing, we should first review what Cabernet Sauvignon tastes like and how different growing regions impact its flavor.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry red wine with high tannins, medium to high acidity, and full in body.
All examples of Cabernet can be expected to have dark fruit flavors ranging from dark fruit to cooked dark fruit, along with pepper notes and a fair amount of oak flavor.
Now, because Cabernet is so popular, it’s been grown in nearly every wine-producing region in the world, making for both cool and warm climate Cabernet, each with its preferred pairings.
Cool climate Cabernet will have more vegetal and green notes, as the grapes do not ripen to the fullest extent. Expect flavors of green bell pepper, fresh herbs, vanilla, and oak spices.
Warmer climate Cabernet - the more preferred climate for Cabernet - exudes dark cherry, blackberry, plum, chocolate, and licorice flavors. Oak is prominent in both regions and offers a roundness to an otherwise sharply tannic wine.
Related: How does Cabernet Sauvignon compare to similar reds like Malbec?
Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet's most prestigious growing region, Bordeaux, is its birthplace and makes for some of the most world-renowned red blends in the world.
Here, Cabernet is typically blended with Merlot and other red varietals, where Cabernet adds dark fruit and complexity, and increases the wines aging potential.
Expect Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon to emphasize vegetal notes of bell pepper, dried herbs, violets, tobacco, licorice, and black cherry.
Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa is the United States’ most prominent and award-winning wine-growing region, mainly due to its plantings of Cabernet.
Indeed, if Bordeaux is Cabernet’s birthplace, then Napa is its home away from home, as it accounts for 40% of all of Napa’s production.
Expect Napa Cabernet to have dark fruit flavors of plum, red and black cherry, blackberry, black currant, licorice, and palpable oak flavor.
For an excellent selection of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at great prices I recommend trying Costco.
Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon
Chile is an excellent band-for-the-buck wine region, producing excellent examples of Cabernet Sauvignon and approachable price points.
Both as a single varietal and as a blend, Chilean Cabernet is rich with dark fruit flavor, candied fruit, and jammy notes.
South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon
South Australia, especially Coonawarra and Margaret River, is known for producing outstanding examples of Cabernet.
These regions offer wines with wonderful minerality and notes of dried herbs and black cherry.
Australia is also the native home to the Eucalyptus tree, making for Cabernets with a delicate eucalyptus or mint flavor that’s wildly refreshing.
How to Pair Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is delicious and fruit-forward, making for an easy pairing with all sorts of dishes.
That being said, some factors should be considered to help narrow down your pairing choices.
Factors to Consider When Pairing Foods With Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is high in acid and tannins. These two factors make for a wine best paired with bold, equally rich dishes.
In general, the wine should not be more intense than the food it’s served with.
For example, pairing crudités with Cabernet would drown out the fresh vegetable flavor and make the dish seem boring. Save this plush, inky wine for your most challenging pairings.
In addition, Cabernet’s high acidity makes it an excellent choice for fatty dishes, as that acid will perfectly slice through an otherwise overpowering dish.
One thing to avoid is to pair Cabernet with spicy dishes such as buffalo wings or a spiced Indian curry. These foods will make Cabernet taste hot (more alcoholic) and make your food taste spicier.
The Best Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairings
Now that we’ve covered our bases, it’s time for the fun part! Cabernet Sauvignon is a wonderfully versatile wine that accentuates all sorts of dishes.
Here are some of our tried and trusted food parings for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon Meat Dish Pairings
Cabernet Sauvignon Vegetarian Dish Pairings
Cabernet Sauvignon Appetizer Pairings
Cabernet Sauvignon and Cheese Pairings
Cabernet Sauvignon and Snack Pairings
Do you have a food pairing with Cabernet Sauvignon that's worth sharing? Let the world know down below!