Cabernet sauvignon is a full-bodied, acidic wine made from the international red wine grape variety of the same name. It has strong tannins that mellow with age. Cabernet sauvignon wines are high in alcohol, usually in the 13–14 percent range. Due to its large production volume, cabernet is often readily available and inexpensive, which further fuels its popularity.
The cabernet sauvignon grape is a hybrid grape, originally formed by the crossing of cabernet franc (a red grape) and sauvignon blanc (a white grape).
Cabernet sauvignon wines come in single varietals (made of 100 percent cabernet sauvignon grapes) and blends. Cabernet grapes are a powerful presence in blends and are frequently blended with other strong, complementary grapes.
What Are the Characteristics of the Cabernet Sauvignon Grape?
The cabernet grape varietal has three distinct features:
- Small and sturdy. Despite its small size, cabernet is quite sturdy: it grows well nearly everywhere, regardless of climate. The grape can also survive nearly all weather conditions, diseases, and insect infestations, making it invaluable to winemakers.
- Great for barrel aging. Cabernet is unusual for its ability to blend well with oak, both in fermentation and barrel aging. This is partly what facilities the great aging that Cabernet is famous for, with oak barrels mellowing the tannins and imparting new flavors and aromas.
- Thick and tannic. Cabernet grapes have thick, black skins, which are packed with tannis. Cabernet also takes its time ripening on the vine, and is less fussy when it comes to picking.
What Does Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Like?
Cabernet sauvignon is famous for its “green bell pepper” flavor, which comes from a compound called pyrazine. But cabernet also features other distinct flavors. On the nose, cabernet is quite bright, which tones down fruit flavors and overly sweet notes. Common cabernet sauvignon aromas and flavors include:
- Crème de cassis
- Black cherries
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