The Cabernet Sauvignon grape is is one of the most widely known red wine grape varieties, being grown in regions as disparate as Canada, the United States, Chile, Lebanon, and South Africa, among others. Recent studies have established that it is the product of a chance crossing between the Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc grape varieties during the 17th century in Bordeaux, in the Medoc district of Southwestern France. Though Bordeaux is widely considered the birthplace of this wine, it has a long history in the province of Piedmont in northwestern Italy as well. The grapes are known for their thick skin, and this toughness, typical of this variety, makes it popular for cultivation, as it can withstand weather conditions from rains to frost, as well as show good resistance to disease and rot.
The Cabernet Sauvignon has been established to be among the best varieties of wine-producing grapes to be developed for aging. In the aging process, its distinctive blackcurrant aroma often develops fragrances of cedar, violets, leather, vanilla, eucalyptus, mint, and even tobacco. Additionally, the wine also typically has other fruit flavors in it, such as blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, plum, and dried fruit essences. The also typical bell pepper aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon is produced by the presence of symmetrical molecules in the grapes, called pyrazine. These molecules are present in greater concentration in under-ripened grapes of this variety and thus produce a stronger flavor at this stage.
Although historically, the wine quality of these grapes came to be known in the Bordeaux region, today, this wine is one of the most widely produced in the world. In France and elsewhere, it is traditionally known for making a fine quality French Bordeaux or Claret wine, along with other French staples of wine connoisseurs such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, wine from these grapes started being produced for a fraction of the price in regions like the Coonawarra Valley in Australia, the famed Napa Valley in California, the Maipo Valley in Chile, as well as Stellenbosch in South Africa. Thus, this grape is now one of the most popular varieties planted worldwide, and it has enhanced its reputation by lending itself to different wine-making styles, from the light, fruity flavors inherent in the Australian and South American varieties to the full-bodied, rich wines with higher alcohol levels of Bordeaux as well as the Californian wines.
As this wine generally contains a higher acidic content with higher level of tannins, it serves well as an accompaniment to richer, heavier food like a juicy piece of steak or red meat. Trying it with lighter foods like white meat or fish won’t give you the effect of the rich flavors of the wine. Finally, as this wine rarely comes with alcohol content less than 14%, it is better served as a warmer in cold climates or as a dinner party wine rather than something cool and refreshing to quaff on a hot summer’s day.