Cabernet sauvignon or cab sauv – is a truly hearty wine. Dry, full-bodied and overflowing with tannins, it’s second only to shiraz on the leaderboard of intense Australian reds. You’ll be able to taste black cherry, blackcurrant, liquorice, leather, vanilla, tobacco and cedar in cab sauv, although these notes can change from region to region – Australian cabernets tend to be fruitier, herbier and more intense than their famous French cousins, which offer an earthier, more floral taste.
Like almost all Australian reds, cabernet sauvignon is classed as a dry wine, as it has zero residual sugar added to it during the production process. But while sugar isn’t added, it could be argued that cab sauv is sweet enough. It has a natural fruitiness from the robust berry and plum flavours, so is far from the driest red, being similar in sweetness to shiraz, merlot and malbec.
The most obvious difference between these two heavyweights is in their aromas and flavours. Where cab sauv is all black fruits, leather and cedar, shiraz is more smoky, spicy and meaty, with red fruits dominating. You’ll also note where these flavours hit on the palate – cab sauv starts strong and has a bold finish, while shiraz has a rich mid-palate.
When it comes to pairing cabernet sauvignon with food, it's best to keep hearty and flavorful dishes in mind. The wine's robust tannins and full-bodied nature make it an excellent match for red meats like steak, lamb, and venison, while the wine's dark fruit flavours and herbaceous notes also complement rich, aged cheeses like cheddar and gouda. Additionally, the high tannin content in cabernet sauvignon can help cut through the richness of dishes containing cream or butter-based sauces.