Menu

Glossary

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

Pronounce it: cab-er-nay sew-vin-yon

The global classic

Cabernet Sauvignon can fairly claim to be the most noble of the noble great varieties. Wherever in the world winemakers have wanted to produce their versions of the best red wines, then they have usually gone to the model of Bordeaux and started with Cabernet Sauvignon. In Chile, for instance, Errázuriz regularly pits its top wines, Cabernet Sauvignon blends, against the finest Bordeaux and Italian wines. (Equally often, these Chilean versions come out top.)
In Bordeaux winemakers traditionally blended in Merlot because it ripened earlier, and ensured quality and consistency in uneven years. Today growers know how to handle the vines to best effect, but Cabernet Sauvignon still adapts to 'seasoning' from other varieties.
The wine also has an affinity with oak. That is to say, fermenting and ageing the wine in oak barrels (French oak adds toast and cedar notes, American oak gives coconut and caramel). As a result Cabernet becomes a remarkably complex patchwork of texture, aroma and flavour.

Main characteristics

Colour: red; from ruby to very dark

Body: medium to full bodied

Tastes: aromas may include green pepper and mint (especially when underripe), typically with blackcurrant fruit, and firm tannins

AKA: Cabernet (but not to be confused with Cabernet Franc, or Sauvignon Blanc)

Often blended with: Merlot (which gives softer roundness), Cabernet Franc (which gives ripeness in cool years, and aromas), Petit Verdot (colour and spice), Shiraz (richness), Sangiovese (in Italy with the 'Super-Tuscans')

Spotter's guide: most famous in France: Bordeaux, especially the 'Left Bank' where it dominates the blends. However it has become the central ingredient, or a key 'seasoning' component around the world. It does not flourish in very cool climates. The key ingredient in Chateau Musar, Lebanon's most famous red

Keep or drink? Drink the cheaper wines, but the finest wines will last for decades

Price range: £3.99 to £399 and beyond

Skills & know how

As well as helping you decide what to cook we can also help you to cook it. From tips on cookery techniques to facts and information about health and nutrition, we’ve a wealth of foodie know how for you to explore.

About BBC Good Food

We’re all about good recipes, and about quality home cooking that everyone can enjoy. Whether you’re looking for some healthy inspiration or learning how to cook a decadent dessert, we’ve trustworthy guidance for all your foodie needs.

Our recipes

All our recipes are tested thoroughly by us to make sure they’re suitable for your kitchen at home. We know many of you are concerned about healthy eating, so we send them to a qualified nutritionist for thorough analysis too.

Tell us what you think…

Love the new look or think we’ve missed the mark? We want to hear your thoughts – good and bad – to make sure we make the new website as useful as possible.

Magazine

Subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine and get triple-tested recipes delivered to your door, every month.

Events

Discover the dates and details of all the BBC Good Food Shows.

On TV

See your favourite chefs on Sky Channel 247, Virgin TV 260 and find their recipes at goodfoodchannel.co.uk

Good Food Apps

Download the BBC Good Food Recipes, tips & cooking tools app and get good food on the go.