Skip to content
Beckmen cabernet sauvignon

A Guide to Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted: Jul 30, 2015

When most peo­ple think of red wine, Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is the first grape that comes to mind. Known as the King of Red Wine, this full bod­ied, dark, con­cen­trat­ed wine is the most pop­u­lar red wine grape grown on the plan­et. Thriv­ing in both warm and cool cli­mates, you’ll be able to find a delec­table Cab – what it’s most often referred as – no mat­ter where you are in the world.


To best under­stand this wine, let’s start with under­stand­ing the grape itself. Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is a nat­ur­al descen­dant of the red grape Caber­net Franc and the white grape Sauvi­gnon Blanc. Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is a very small berry – it’s one of the small­est grapes out of the 3,000 grape vari­eties used to make wine. Because of this, there is a greater ratio of skin to pulp than for most oth­er grapes. The skin of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is thick and deep pur­ple in color.


Col­or is one of the dead give­aways of Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wine. Caber­net is firm­ly plant­ed in the dark, rich, ruby end of the wine spec­trum. A wine gets its col­or from the skin of the grapes, so com­bine the thick, dark skin with the high skin to pulp ratio, and out emerges a beau­ti­ful, inky, dark wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon Color 768X1024

Aromas & Flavors

Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wines will taste very dif­fer­ent depend­ing on where the grapes are grown. A warm cli­mate will pro­duce a wine with ripe fruit notes: black­ber­ry, black cur­rant, plum, and black cher­ry. In cool­er cli­mates, the fla­vor pro­file tends to lean more herba­ceous, with notes of mint, euca­lyp­tus, toma­to leaf, leather, and earth. Caber­net is near­ly always aged in oak bar­rels, so depend­ing on the type of oak used, you will pick up tones of cedar, tobac­co, smoke, vanil­la, coconut, and bak­ing spices. Oth­er com­mon Caber­net notes are vio­lets, ros­es, mush­rooms, and bell peppers.

Cabernet Sauvignon Sample

Oak Aging

Caber­net is a very pow­er­ful and intense wine due to the grape’s inher­ent char­ac­ter­is­tics. Wine­mak­ers will age Caber­net in oak bar­rels for 12 years, or more, to help soft­en the intense tan­nin struc­ture and add a greater over­all com­plex­i­ty. There are var­i­ous types of oak that can be used, but French and Amer­i­can white oak are the most pop­u­lar; French oak gen­er­al­ly has a tighter grain and a more sub­tle impact on the wine’s aro­mas and fla­vors, where­as Amer­i­can oak is loos­er grained and has a more pro­nounced effect on the wine.

2019 Q1 6645


Caber­net is the most wide­ly plant­ed wine grape in the world, due in large part to the vine’s abil­i­ty to adapt to dif­fer­ent soil types and a range of cli­mates. Bor­deaux, France is the first place most peo­ple think of for grow­ing Caber­net, fol­lowed close­ly by Napa Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia. There are many oth­er places where Caber­net is grown: Spain, Italy, Chile, Aus­tralia, Argenti­na, New Zealand, South Africa, oth­er parts of Cal­i­for­nia besides Napa Val­ley, Wash­ing­ton, New York, Texas, Vir­ginia, Israel, Lebanon, Hun­gary, and China.

Finding Quality Cabernet at a Good Value

Caber­net Sauvi­gnon is often the most expen­sive wine you’ll find at your wine shop or gro­cery store, espe­cial­ly if you have your eyes on a Bor­deaux or Napa Caber­net. Don’t be scared away by the high price tag of these wines and think all your Caber­net hopes are lost. Good qual­i­ty Caber­net can be eas­i­ly found in regions such as California’s Cen­tral Coast, Langue­doc-Rous­sil­lon in France, and Curicó Val­ley in Chile. You’ll be pay­ing a lot less for these wines and still enjoy­ing Caber­nets com­plex and intense features.

Blending with Cabernet

On its own, Caber­net is a very rugged and harsh wine that most peo­ple find unap­peal­ing. In order to make the wine more palat­able and round out its rough edges, near­ly all wine­mak­ers blend in some small per­cent­age of anoth­er grape. The most com­mon blend­ing part­ners from around the world are: Mer­lot, Caber­net Franc, Mal­bec, Petit Ver­dot, San­giovese, Carmenere, Syrah, Shi­raz, and Tem­pranil­lo. Even if you think you’re drink­ing a 100% Caber­net Sauvi­gnon wine, you most like­ly aren’t. Each country’s laws are dif­fer­ent, but a wine­mak­er can put a small per­cent­age of anoth­er vari­ety into a wine with­out adver­tis­ing it on the label. Anoth­er rea­son why Caber­net tastes so dif­fer­ent depend­ing on where it’s made – the com­mon blend­ing partner(s) will be dif­fer­ent depend­ing upon which region the grapes were grown in.

Beckmen cabernet sauvignon

Serving Tip

If you are enjoy­ing a young Caber­net, the fla­vors and mouth­feel will be very intense! Soft­en the wine by aer­at­ing it before drink­ing. This can be done by pour­ing the wine into your glass and wait­ing (1530 min­utes should do be good), by pour­ing the bot­tle of wine into a decanter, or by using an aer­at­ing tool such as the Vin­turi Wine Aer­a­tor or a Wine Globe Aer­a­tor.

If you are savor­ing an old­er Caber­net – 8 years old or old­er – it is high­ly rec­om­mend­ed you decant the bot­tle as you aer­ate it. By care­ful­ly mov­ing the wine from one ves­sel to anoth­er, you are able to pour off any sed­i­ment that has accu­mu­lat­ed in the bot­tom of the bot­tle. As a wine ages, tan­nins and oth­er sol­id mat­ter falls to the bot­tom of the bot­tle, accu­mu­lat­ing as sed­i­ment. This is why an old­er wine tastes soft­er, or feels eas­i­er to drink, because the tan­nins have lit­er­al­ly pre­cip­i­tat­ed out of it.

Food Pairing

A full bod­ied Caber­net should be paired with a hearty dish, oth­er­wise the wine’s fla­vors will over­whelm the food. Look for a meal with healthy fats, as the fat will bal­ance out strong tannins. 

Back to the Blog