Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Ratings, Reviews and Basics | Wine Enthusiast
Wine bottle illustration Displaying 0 results for
Suggested Searches
Articles & Content
Varietal > Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Grape Varietals 101

Cabernet Sauvignon

What is Cabernet Sauvignon

Pronunciation: Cab-ehr-nay SOH-vin-yon

Cabernet Sauvignon is an extremely popular red-wine grape variety known for making full- bodied, firm-textured wines that often age well. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are used largely for dry red wines and occasionally in rosé wines.

It is a black grape variety famous for its concentrated flavors and firm tannins. It is used in making the great wines of Bordeaux, as well as collectible Napa Valley wines, among others.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a late-ripening variety that yields moderate-size crops of thick-skinned, blue-black grapes hanging in loose clusters from copper-colored canes.

The grapes are often blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot in wines ranging from generic red Bordeaux to the collectible first-growth wines of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild and Chateau Latour in the Médoc region.

Cabernet Sauvignon Synonyms

Petit Cabernet, Vidure, Petite-Vidure, Bouchet, Bouche, Petit-Bouchet and Sauvignon Rouge.

Cabernet Sauvignon Regions

Originating in Bordeaux, France, the grape variety spread quickly around the world in the late 20th century. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are widely planted in Bordeaux, California, Washington state, Australia and Chile. Since the 1970s, the grape variety has become practically synonymous with Napa Valley wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting Notes

Wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are typically deep red to almost black in color, full in body, astringent or grippy in texture to help the wine age and tasting of black cherries, dark plums and hints of herbs, bell peppers and tobacco.

The tannins and flavor concentration come from the grape variety’s thick skins and small berries. These traits are usually refined by maturing in oak barrels for six to 24 months before bottling. These traits also help Cabernet Sauvignon wines age and improve over time in the bottle, often getting more complex and elegant for 10 to 20 and even sometimes for 50 years or more.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are found in red, rose, sparkling, and dessert wines.

Structural Characteristics

Low Medium High
Alcohol levels
Low Medium High
Low Medium High
Tannin Structure
Low Medium High

Examples of Cabernet Sauvignon to Try

Handling Tips

60-68°F / 16-20°C
5-25 years

Fun Facts

  • Genetic testing has shown that Cabernet Sauvignon is—to no great surprise–the “child” of a cross between “parents” Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc in Bordeaux.
  • Super Tuscan blends from Italy often use Cabernet Sauvignon as a major ingredient in their blends.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon vines are relatively easy-to-grow, give good yields per acre and are resistant to mildew.
  • Great Bordeaux vintages of the past include 1945, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1982, 1990 and 2000.