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The Most Complete Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing Guide (2023)

Meat, meat, red meat, dark meat, meat, and more meat. Okay, okay, there are more foods that pair with Cabernet Sauvignon though meat does take up the lion’s share. In this Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing guide, we’ll go beyond just pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with steak. I’ve included appetizers, pizza, pasta, and plenty vegetarian dishes to be enjoyed with Cabernet.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing

Here is everything you need to know about the world’s most widely planted red grape. With some background information, you can make even better Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings.

Where is Cabernet Sauvignon from?

Cabernet Sauvignon originally comes from the famous wine region of Bordeaux, France. It is the result of a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Since it’s inception in the 17th century and it’s popularity in the 18th century in Bordeaux vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon has grown to be the most widely planted grape variety in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is king and no other grape variety even comes close.

cabernet sauvignon food pairing

Why is Cabernet Sauvignon so popular?

The easy answer to why Cabernet Sauvignon is so popular is because it’s delicious. It is full-bodied, fruity, has balanced acidity, and plenty of tannins that make it age-worthy. Cabernet Sauvignon is also a wine that goes very well with many foods, but can also be enjoyed on its own with a little snack. It’s also a relatively easy grape to grow and produces a good sized crop which makes it profitable for winemakers. Beyond that, its popularity has bred even more popularity. If everyone else likes it, then maybe you will, too!

Best Regions for Cabernet Sauvignon


The birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon remains a significant production site for the classic version of Cab. Centuries of wine knowledge and tradition come together to deliver this exceptional result for which every wine lover is grateful. It is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and smaller amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot to make classic Bordeaux wines.

California (Napa)

Every since the Judgement of Paris, Cabernet Sauvignon exploded in California. Basically, a bottle of Napa Cabernet beat out the best French wines in a blind tasting, solidifying Napa’s spot on the wine map. Since that fateful day in 1976, Napa Cab has become THE wine of the United States. In Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon has a bit more oak character and a higher tannic structure. Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is off the charts expensive, but worth it for a special wine dinner.

The rest of California

California’s mild winters and warm summers make it an ideal spot to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s the most planted grape variety and every year it’s acreage goes up and up. Cabernet Sauvignon from other California AVAs are better values compared to the famous Napa producers.


Following Cabernet Sauvignon’s popularity in the new world, Chile is one of the best regions to choose from. Vineyards all over Chile produce a softer version of Cabernet Sauvignon that is exceptionally budget-friendly.

For lots more information about Cabernet Sauvignon, check it out here.

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cabernet sauvignon with steak

What does Cabernet Sauvignon Smell Like?

Cabernet Sauvignon has such a distinctive aroma that you will never forget it once you smell it. It combines notes of blackberry, violets, black currant, and often green bell peppers, not to mention all the imparting aromas from oak barrels like vanilla, tobacco, and spices.

What does Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Like?

Although the taste of Cabernet Sauvignon can vary from region to region, you will almost always taste its dark fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and blackcurrant. It is a wine with medium acidity, full body, high tannin, and moderate to high alcohol. Cabernet Sauvignon has a creamy mouthfeel often described as velvety. Cabernet Sauvignon benefits significantly from barrel ageing, which adds flavors of vanilla and spice. More Cabernet Sauvignon wine descriptors found here.

cabernet sauvignon appetizer pairing

Characteristics of Cabernet Sauvignon to Consider when Pairing Food

Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold wine with a high concentration in almost every category. Acidity, tannin, alcohol, and body are all on the medium to high side, and you need to account for that when it comes to food pairing. At the same time, don’t forget we are talking about a dry although fruity wine. The key to Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing is to consider the tannins. Tannins need protein to break down. Cabernet has high tannins and pair best with meats that aren’t super lean and are protein rich. It’s not a coincidence that every steak house has 10 pages of just Cabernets.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing List

Without further ado, here is all the information you need about Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing!

Appetizers for Cabernet Sauvignon

Although it is a bold choice to start a meal, there are plenty of appetizers that pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. Just remember, any foods that come after the appetizers will need to be even bolder.

  • Meatballs
  • Lamb skewers
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Spinach and artichoke dip
  • Charcuterie

Cabernet Sauvignon and Finger Food

Although Cab is a wine that shines when accompanied with the right cooked food, nothing stops you from enjoying its absolute taste on the spot! Combine it with cheese and crackers, pork sliders, nachos, and mozzarella sticks.

Salads with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cab’s fruity aromas and flavors make it a great match with any salads with red fruits in it or with a fruit-based dressing. Fall salads with dried fruit will work or, as you can probably guess, a steak and blue cheese salad is excellent with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pizza and Cabernet Sauvignon

Since Cab is a heavier red wine, it pairs great with cheesy pizzas. The acid offsets the heavy cheese and improves the taste of pizza even more. A meat-lovers pizza is another obvious choice with Cabernet. But a simple green pepper and mushroom pizza works great with Cabernet Sauvignon too.

Chicken and poultry dishes that pair with Cabernet Sauvignon 

There’s a common belief that chicken and poultry should be paired with white wine. This is generally the case, BUT the way you prepare poultry dishes will help make a complementary pairing with heavy reds like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chicken with Tomato-based sauce and Cab

Tomato-based sauces make a chicken dish heavier, add to that how well the acid will match with Cabernet and you’ve got a pretty darn good pairing. Adding mushrooms and peppers will make the match even better.

Roast Chicken and Cabernet Sauvignon

A simple roasted chicken can pair great with any full-flavored red wine such as Cab. Throw some potatoes in the pan with some herbs and you’ll make it work. You can even opt for the aged versions of Cabernet Sauvignon which will have mild out a bit.

Turkey Dinner with Cabernet Sauvignon

Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Yum! The bright red fruit of the cranberry sauce brings this dish together for a great match with the wine.

Pork with Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the combos you need to try is Cab with pork. The reason? The pork fat cuts through the tannin structure of the wine, making the meat even softer. Pork dishes that are cooked with fruit like plums are especially good pairings with Cab. More pork and wine pairings here.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing: Sandwiches

Steak and cheese with Cabernet Sauvignon

It goes without saying that Cabernet Sauvignon really shines when it accompanies red meat. That is where its tannins work miracles. For that reason, any sandwich with steak makes a great companion to Cab. And if you also add lots of cheese, you have the best of all worlds! I’m craving a Philly cheese steak so bad now!

Classic Cheeseburger and Cabernet Sauvignon

A classic burger is awesome with Cabernet Sauvignon for the many reasons listed about but a…

Lamb Burger with Cabernet Sauvignon is delightful!

Meat dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon

Clearly this is the no-brainer category. Cabernet Sauvignon was made to pair with red meat. Essentially, every cut of a cow will go with Cabernet. Lamb is also a great pairing with Cab, too though. Read of for more Cabernet Sauvignon meat pairings.

Lamb with Cabernet Sauvignon

Another must-try side to Cab is no other than lamb. Again, the tannins and acid of the wine produce exceptional results when they come in contact with the heavy and oily lamb meat, whether that is roasted or grilled. A rack of lamb paired with Bordeaux is a classic wine and food pairing.

Prime Rib and Cabernet Sauvignon

Prime rib is a rich meal that finds its perfect match when paired with the dry and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon.

New York Strip and Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the most popular steaks in the world, the New York Strip has a bold beef flavor and enough fat to make a great pair with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Filet mignon and Cabernet Sauvignon

Even a leaner cut of beef, such as filet mignon, can be a suitable pair to Cabernet Sauvignon, especially if you choose a leaner style of Cab like Bordeaux or from Chile.

Vegetarian Dishes that Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon

If you want to pair Cab with non-meat dishes, opt for the heartier and heavier vegetarian plates. For example, think of alternatives that include mushrooms or eggplant.

Here is a list of vegetarian dishes that go well with Cabernet Sauvignon:

  • Veggie burger
  • Mushroom risotto
  • Vegan Enchiladas
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Baked potatoes
  • Ratatouille Tart
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Eggplant Parmesan

Cabernet Sauvignon with cheese 

Cabernet Sauvignon makes a perfect sidekick to aged cheeses with deep and complex flavors.

Here are some of the best cheeses that go well with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon Cheese Pairing

  • Aged cheddar (fun tip, aged cheddar with aged Cab, fresh cheddar with young Cab)
  • Gouda
  • Blue cheese
  • Mahon
  • Gruyere

Serving Suggestions for Cabernet Sauvignon

To fully enjoy your Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing, make sure you are serving it properly. Every wine lover that aims for the perfect taste must ensure the Cabernet Sauvignon is decanted before they serve it. This will “open up” the wine and also remove sediment that may have settled at the bottom of the bottle. I personally like this shape decanter for Cabernet.

Generally speaking, red wines are served way too warm. For optimal tasting, put the bottle in the fridge for about 10 minutes before you serve it. Make sure you’re storing your wines correctly.

Cabernet Sauvignon is an age-worthy wine. Most Cabs can age for at least a couple of years. The high concentration of tannins ensures the wine will only get better. As a rule of thumb, if you paid more than $40 for a bottle, the wine can safely age for at least 5 years.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing

What foods go well with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Red meat is the absolute soul mate of Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins of the wine balance beautifully with the fat in the meat. At the same, Cab makes an excellent companion to poultry dishes, cheese, even heartier vegetarian dishes.

What appetizer goes with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Fruit salads, cheese curds, mushroom tarts, and pretzels are great appetizers that go exceptionally well with Cabernet Sauvignon.

What type of cheese goes with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Aged cheeses with a complex and rich flavor make an excellent fit for Cabernet Sauvignon, thanks to the wine’s own complexity. Cheddar and Gouda are two types of cheeses that you want to try with Cab.

Does Cabernet Sauvignon go with Italian food?

Since a lot of Italian food is tomato-based, Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice to accompany most Italian dishes. The acid in the tomato means that the wine must have more acid so that it doesn’t taste flabby or flat. And Cab delivers that acidity and even more!

I hope you enjoyed this Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing Guide! If you have more suggestions, add them to the comments.

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