Best Foods to Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon
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We break down the best food and wine pairings to go with your cabs
What foods to pair with cabernet sauvignon.
Having just returned from California, and specifically, Napa, Calif., I’m in a bit of a cabernet state of mind, not that there is anything wrong with that. Napa is, after all, Cabernet Central; though many other fine wines can be found there, there is something about Napa Valley that just elicits a cabernet sauvignon kinda feeling.
I enjoyed quite a few examples of cabernet during my visits, and the truth is that while there is a very definite Napa Valley style, there are also wines that are working the fringes, either being over the top or showing restraint and elegance. This generally holds true for wines from around the world. Most live in the middle of the preference curve, happily occupied by fruity, soft, and rather rich wines, but that is not the end all and be all of cabernet.
All this got me thinking, specifically thinking of pairing cabernet with food, and not just big beefy steaks. Is cabernet food friendly and flexible? You bet. In fact, here are five recipes to get you thinking about pairing cabernet with some surprising culinary partners.
Click here to find the best foods to pair with cabernet sauvignon.
— Gregory Del Piaz, Snooth
Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairings
Searching for the perfect companion for your Cabernet? This full-bodied, bold red can go nicely with a number of things. From a cheese board featuring a bold bleu, accented with walnuts and pistachios, right into the filet mignon you’re serving as a main, Cabernet can showcase the best flavors of plenty of pairings. We even like it well into the dessert course.
Cabernet Sauvignon is noted for flavors of ripe berry and savory herbs. Since it is grown in a variety of climates around the globe, you can expect different vineyards to produce slightly different flavor profiles. What you can count on, however, is plenty of tannins and a balanced amount of acidity. The end result is a full, rich flavor that is quite bold, yet very palatable.
A few of our suggestions may be expected, like the filet mignon, but a few may take you for a surprise. For example, would you expect that your side dish of beets would bring out the notes of herb and fruit in our big, bold Cab-Sav? Here’s a look at how to perfectly pair your ONEHOPE Cabernet Sauvignon.
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When selecting your Cabernet Sauvignon, region of production is of particular note. You may choose an “Old World” Cabernet, perhaps one from the Bordeaux region of France, or a “New World” Cabernet Sauvignon like our own California Cabernet Sauvignon. Old world versions feature strong tannins and acids with an overall lighter profile, whereas new world versions are a bit fruitier. In a new world Cab-Sav, expect to find notes of vanilla, black cherry, and black pepper. In general, new world wines will have fewer tannins, softer acidity, and a higher alcohol per volume than her old world cousins.
You’ll want to serve your Cabernet in a wide bulb glass, with or without a stem, and at room temperature. The wider the opening of the glass, the easier you’ll be able to experience the wine’s full flavor profile. We recommend removing the cork 15-20 minutes before serving in order to let it “breathe,” or mingle with the air and release its flavor. Any wine that you don’t consume with your meal should be kept in the bottle, recorked, and stored at room temperature. You can expect it to stay fresh for up to three days.
A bit about Cabernet Franc- Proud Poppa
Cabernet Franc is one of the original grapes of Bordeaux. Over the years in the vineyards, Cabernet Franc crossed with a few other grapes to parent the most famous grapes in the world Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is also a parent to the less known grape Carmenere. Cabernet Franc is blended with Merlot in Bordeaux to make the prized wines of Pomerol and St Emilion. In the the Loire Valley of France, Cabernet Franc is a monovarietal wine in the Chinon region. The French don’t label their wines with the variety so if you see Chinon on the label, you know it’s Cabernet Franc. The Finger Lakes in New York are also making some pretty tasty Cab Franc, too.
Cabernet Franc pairs well with grilled chicken and pork.
How To Pair Food Appetizers with Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet sauvignon is a popular red wine produced from cabernet grapes, which are the base for several good quality red wines. The supple flavors and aroma of cabernet sauvignon range from heavy fruits such as cherry, blackberry and raspberry, to complex woody and peppery undertones. Pair deep-flavored appetizers with the heavy-textured cabernet sauvignon to ensure that the wine blends well with your hors d’oeuvres.
Combine hard and aged full-flavored cheeses with cabernet sauvignon. Cheeses such as cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and asiago pair well with cabernet.
Accompany red meat appetizers such as prosciutto ham with cabernet sauvignon. Roll-up thin slices of seasoned, cured or air-dried prosciutto ham along with a slice each of romaine lettuce leaves and Brie cheese and serve at room temperature or chilled alongside cabernet sauvignon.
Serve bitter flavored vegetable appetizers with cabernet sauvignon. Prepare bruschetta toppings or tapenade sauce dips by adding vegetables such as broccoli rabe, grilled radicchio or roasted Brussels sprouts. The bitterness in these vegetables evenly balances the cabernet’s bitter tannins.
Serve red meat pates such as lamb or veal along with ciabatta bread and cabernet sauvignon.
Chocolate is a natural pairing for red wine, and your dessert can be as simple as offering a tray of chocolate truffles with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark chocolate stands up well to the rich wine. A fondue made with dark chocolate offers variety for diners. Serve it with strawberries, pieces of chocolate pound cake and a Cabernet noted for its fruit tones. For an elegant dessert, serve a souffle made with bittersweet chocolate topped with shavings of a good-quality dark chocolate bar.
A Guide to Pairing: New World Cabernet Sauvignon
We’re in the thick of our Big Fall Countdown, and as you’ve seen, we’ve been releasing the biggest and best Napa Cabs of the year in series of late. But what to pair with them? Here’s our handy guide to help you find your best match for these types of wine.
A bit about Cabernet Sauvignon:
- Cabernet Sauvignon is a child of Sauvignon Blanc (giving it its trademark acidity) and Cabernet Franc (giving it most of its best qualities, and depending on your preference, maybe some of its worst too)
- Old World styles are known for being lower in alcohol and terroir driven, New World expressions are more fruited, fully structured, and have grown historically higher in alcohol as the fruit gets much riper on the vine
- Cab is great for aging, but that also means it’s heavy in the tannin department
- Cab is the world’s most widely planted red grape
Time to talk food (think like a chef):
New World Cabernet is the great steak of the wine world. Meaty, sometimes imbued with irony, bloody aspects, and tannins like a great steak meat fibers. The most sought after styles are rich, robust, dark, extracted, and intense in their youth, showing great age when they begin to mellow, heavily sedimented, into these great cellar gems filled with earthy qualities and settling into more elegant expressions antithetical to their abrasive boldness in youth.
Cab is generally noted for the plum, cassis, and red fruit qualities in New World expressions, backed up by anything from cedar or other woods, green or red bell peppers, vanilla, floral arrays, graphite (pencil shavings), leather, tar, wet stones, and earth.
So if you’re a chef, and you’re making a dish, the wine has the fruit and earth flavor profile handled, and the wine generally is praised for its acidity, so it will have a great palate cleansing aspect to it. Some expressions have a bit of (not always so noticeable) sweetness to them, which can carry well against salty or savory flavors.
Compare AND contrast:
As always, easy stuff first, comparable flavors. Quite possibly the easiest and most obvious pairing in the food & wine world, steak and Cab. From simple dinners at home to top dollar multi-Michelin star global establishments, you will find the classic pairing of steak and Cab everywhere. In a world where it’s impossible to please everyone, this pairing comes about as close to a universally understood and accepted pairing as it gets. As we mentioned above, Cab is the steak of the wine world. The tannins integrate with each other perfectly, the green notes in the wine go great with the flavors of steak, any iron note in the wine is only accentuating the iron notes in the meat, the wine’s acidity cuts the steak fat perfectly, and any residual sweetness in the wine plays off the salty crust on the steak for the classic salty sweet flavor combo. Basically if you can’t appreciate a good steak and a good Cab, you might have some issues with your palate, and may need to seek medical help.
Bell peppers in any way, shape, or form are great with Cab too, largely due to the pyrazine in the wine (the stuff that makes bell peppers taste the way they do also exists in Cab grapes – this comes from the parent grape Cab Franc, which also has them). So basically anything with bell pepper pairs well with a Cab, and if by some chance you forgot the bell peppers in a dish, just pair it with a Cab to make up for the lack of it in your dish.
And other side of the coin, contrasting pairings.
Cab has a lot of fruit flavors, sometimes to the detriment of the wine, it can become jammy. That doesn’t mean it’s bad Cab, but you’ll need to contrast other flavors and profiles with it. Enter, the cheese plate. Any array of cheeses is great with a bit of jam, so why not let the wine do that work? As well, the acidity Cab is so famous for cuts the rich fats of the cheese on the palate in a way that gives your palate the fullest sensory experience. Cheese and Cab can exist in the world all on their own, but once they’ve come together, they become inseparable.
It’s no surprise there are many wines in the world that have gamey flavors, some sought out specifically for that. Cab isn’t the gamiest of wines, but when it comes to lamb, or other game meat, they usually get served with some sort of fruit accompaniment (wild boar and figs, lamb and barberries, etc…), and generally herbs (like mint or rosemary), and thus Cab makes a great pairing to compliment the game of the meat with fruit from the wine, playing off any grilled flavors much like the steak pairing (salty sweet combo), but letting the game meat add the gamey flavor to the wine, all while integrating tannin between the meat and wine perfectly. Bonus points if you happen to have a particularly minty Cab to play off or make up for the lack of any minty flavors in the dish – best suited for lamb in this situation.
Portobello mushrooms might be the best and only mushrooms to pair with Cab outright. Portobello have a unique, intense, almost meaty flavor, unmatched in the mushroom kingdom, and thus, it’s not a mushroom for any mere Pinot Noir, it’s a mushroom that requires, nay, demands a Cab. If you really want to get crazy, stuff your portobello with blue cheese. Now you have the single best vegetarian pairing for your Cab of choice.
We’re just going to get right to it. Goldfish and New World Cab. If you’ve never tried it, just go buy some goldfish right now and thank us later. You’re welcome.
So there you have it, our guide for pairing New World Cabernet Sauvignon.
How about you though? For our other guests, please feel free to share your pairing suggestions for New World Cabernet Sauvignon in the comments below.
Cabernet Franc Food Pairings
When was the last time you heard someone order a bottle of Cabernet Franc at a restaurant? Or saw one poured at a dinner party? We bet never. Sure . . . you’ve likely tasted it as a blending grape in red Bordeaux, Napa Meritages and in blends from Washington State, Argentina, Australia, and other countries. But as a stand-alone varietal, we bet never.
Cabernet Franc, along with Sauvignon Blanc, is a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon – arguably the most-loved red wine in the world. As such, we’re confounded that wine lovers haven’t been more curious about Cab Franc. One might argue that the wine is hard to find. But with Cab Franc available from France, Italy, South Africa, California, Long Island, and NY’s Finger Lakes region, we say you just haven’t looked in the right places. Yes, it may not be on your supermarket shelf, but quality wine stores will surely have bottlings.
If you say that you don’t know what food to pair with Cab Franc, well you’ve come to the right place. We’ve found two great pairing for the wine, as have our fellow bloggers who invite you to join us for a Twitter chat on Saturday, March 9 th at 11 am EST to discover food pairings for Cab Franc from around the world.
But first, the wine. Let’s start with the most famous source of Cab Franc – the Loire Valley in France. For an outstanding example of this varietal, we’ve chosen Charles Joguet’s Les Varennes du Grand Clos 2014 from the commune of Chinon ($38).
Joguet’s vineyard of 40+-year-old, ungrafted vines is located near the gravelly banks of the Vienne River (a tributary of the Loire). There the sand-clay-limestone soils produce a lighter style of Cab Franc than from other slopes in the Loire region. If you’ve never tasted Cabernet Franc from Chinon, this wine from Joguet is an excellent expression of the grape. Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, which is full-bodied with vibrant red and black fruits, this Franc is medium-bodied, tasting of sweet raspberries but with mineral overtones. Where Cab Sauvignon serves up power and richness, this Cab Franc offers great finesse and elegance. With this wine, we love the Fine Cookingrecipe for Rigatoni with Summer Squash, Spicy Sausage and Goat Cheese, a pairing we reviewed in our earlier blog post. Please click here for the complete discussion and recipe.
If your preference is for heartier fare, we think that New York’s Union Square Café’s Rib Steak over Arugula Salad is another superb pairing for Cab Franc.
Union Square Cafe’s Rib Steak over Arugula
We reviewed this pairing in an earlier blog post as well. Please access th e post here for a link to the recipe and our discussion of the pairing. Note that with this salad, you might want to consider a Cab Franc from the Central Coast (Santa Barbara) of California. Our go-to Cali producer is Roark Wine Company ($30) in Buellton, CA. Principally because of richer soils and warmer growing conditions, Roark’s Cab Franc tends to be a touch fruitier and bit less nervy than the Joguet. Still pure and precise, but with smoother edges. Think Notre Dame versus Joguet’s Empire State Building. Perfect with the rich Rib Steak and the tangy, peppery Arugula.
If you sample these wine pairings, will Cab Franc find a home in your wine vocabulary? We bet yes. After all, how can you turn down an opportunity to meet the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon?
Here’s a listing of all the great food pairing experiences with Cabernet Franc:
The rich flavor of mushrooms pairs well with Cabernet, and combined with a rich filling, stuffed mushrooms make a great snack to enjoy with this wine. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese, two minced cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint, 2 tbsp. olive oil and some salt and pepper, and mix well. Pull the stems from about 28 white mushrooms. Spoon the mixture into the mushrooms, and place them on an oiled baking sheet. Bake them for about 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.