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5 Interesting Facts About Cabernet Sauvignon

Full-bodied, muscular, and structured are all frequent descriptors used to describe Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that has won over loyal converts for generations. Whether you’re hosting a wine trivia night with friends, or have fallen for Cabernet’s charisma, here are 5 fun Cabernet Sauvignon facts worth sharing.

A row of Cabernet Sauvignon vines with a signpost

Cabernet Sauvignon is the child grape of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

You don’t often think of grapes having parents or children, but all grape varieties are connected to what’s essentially a family tree – or vine, as the case may be.

Most grapevines are clones, meaning vines are rarely exposed to new genetic material that could create a novel grape variety. Selecting different varieties and crossing them together with the hopes of making a successful child takes viticulturalists decades, but it can happen by accident in nature.

While Cab’s origin story will forever remain a mystery, it’s believed that the elegant Sauvignon Blanc and the perfumed Cabernet Franc hooked up to create their golden child, Cabernet Sauvignon, in a chance crossing back in 17th century France. It wasn’t until 1996 that UC Davis researchers were able to decode Cab Sav’s DNA and officially identified the grape’s heritage.

Cabernet Sauvignon expresses characteristics from each of its parents, to include the green notes of Sauvignon Blanc and the black fruit of Cabernet Franc.

Does Cabernet Sauvignon have any famous children? Yes!

Bonus facts: In the early 1960s, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache were crossed to produce a grape called Marselan. Cab also claims half-sibling status with Carménère and Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most planted wine grape variety.

Cabernet Sauvignon holds the title as the most widely planted wine grape globally. There are over 842,000 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted, followed in second place by Merlot which has just over 657,000 acres under vine.

A few interesting places (beyond Napa and Bordeaux) where Cabernet is grown:

  • Cabernet is the most widely planted grape in Chile. Look for Chilean Cabs from Maipo and Colchagua Valley.

  • Cabernet is wildly popular in China, which has the biggest red wine consumer segment in the world. Producers are still learning where best to cultivate the variety, but the country already has close to 42,000 acres under vine.

  • In Australia, the Margaret River, McClaren Vale, and Coonawarra regions are renowned for their Cabernet Sauvignon and produce some of the country’s most esteemed Cabernet Sauvignons.

Other notable Cabernet growing regions worth seeking out are Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand and Sonoma County’s Chalk Hill region in California.

Bordeaux, France

Cabernet plays a starring role in several world famous wines.

Not everyone wants to buy a wine and then have to cellar it for years before drinking. Knowing this, winemakers aim to make wines that can be enjoyed as soon as they’re released.

Cabernet Sauvignon can be problematic as an early-drinking wine, when it’s bottled on its own. Its bold flavors and mouth-coating tannins can lead to a rather unpleasant drinking experience in a youthful Cab. This is why Cabernet is very often blended with other grapes to create a more approachable, softer wine as well as to add complexity through a depth of flavors.

World-famous Cabernet-based blends include:

Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Carménère. Left bank Bordeaux tends to be Cab dominant; right bank Bordeaux is Merlot dominant. Producers can use any percentage of permitted varieties in their blends.

[California] Meritage
Wine in the Bordeaux-style that blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, St. Macaire, Gros Verdot, and Carménère. No one grape can be more than 90% of the blend.

Super Tuscan Wines
Super Tuscan wines are red wines from Tuscany that have significant Bordeaux influence. They are most often blends of indigenous grapes (such as Sangiovese) with non-Italian grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Australian Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon Blends
Many of the world’s most iconic wines feature Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks to high demand and limited production, these wines are bought and sold on secondary markets at astounding prices. Investors even trade these wines like stock.

While most people think of Bordeaux wines or Napa Valley Cabernet when they think of expensive, rare, and collectible Cabernet based wines, there are also some world renowned Cabernet-Shiraz blends from Australia’s Barossa Valley that command steep price points and that have acquired a cult-like status and cachet among collectors. One of such wines is Penfolds ‘Grange’ wine.

a woman pouring red wine in a vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon Day falls on the Thursday before Labor Day.

Not that you ever need an excuse to drink Cab, but just in case you do, know that the grape boasts its very own special day. Cabernet Sauvignon Day started back in 2010 as a marketing scheme by a Napa Valley wine marketer, Rick Bakas, and falls right before Labor Day (US).

Labor Day holds a special place for many as the final farewell to summer, celebrated with one last grill party before putting away the patio set for winter. It also conveniently happens that a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will pair pretty nicely with grilled meats.

Be sure to pop a cork of Cabernet Sauvignon next September and raise a glass to this little grape!

Cabernet Sauvignon grows on every continent except Antarctica.

Cab is the undisputed king of Napa, but its popularity spans the globe and is considered an ‘international variety’. The vine has made its way around the world with enterprising viticulturalists who aspire to cultivate greatness, and today Cabernet Sauvignon enjoys a place of prominence in both old and new world wine growing regions.

So what is it that makes Cabernet Sauvignon so popular?

a meal with two women sharing red wineWines crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon boast food-friendly qualities that make it a reliable guest on any dining table. The wine’s rich purple fruits, including plum, bramble, and dark cherry, gush forward on the palate, supported by grippy tannins and medium levels of acidity. Those strong tannins scrape away oily foods, acting as a cleanser for savory dishes like roasted meats.

Another plus for the wine is its ageability. Wines suitable for cellaring need structure, sufficient alcohol (a preservative), and fruit concentration that will withstand time. Most wines will not improve with age, but Cabernet Sauvignon often has higher alcohol that, when paired with robust tannins and powerful aromas and flavors, make these wines age worthy. Cabernet can develop and evolve in complexity for many years in the bottle.

From a grape grower or farmer’s standpoint, Cabernet Sauvignon’s thick skins help it resist fungal disease in the vineyard, making it a heartier grape that is less susceptible to disease.

Thirsty for More?

Have these 5 fun Cabernet Sauvignon facts got you thinking about layers of luscious chocolate, plush black fruit, and deep, dense earth? It might be time to crack a bottle of Cabernet.

Head over to our wine store to discover more boutique Cabernet Sauvignon wines from artisanal producers.

More Cabernet Sauvignon Related Posts & Recipes:

Pinot Noir vs. Cabernet Sauvignon

Summerland Cabernet Braised Short Ribs

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Smoked Bacon Parsnip Gratin & Rich Cabernet Sauce