Wine & Cheese Pairing - Cabernet Sauvignon

Glass of Cabernet Sauvignon next to its bottle.

Cabernet Sauvignon is highly adaptable, wildly popular, and a brilliant choice for cheese.

The wine

Even though it’s grown pretty much everywhere and has all sorts of expressions, all Cabernet Sauvignons share some characteristics. Deep color, solid structure, and aromas of spices and dark berries are this magnificent wine’s calling card.

Most old-world producers use Cabernet Sauvignon as a blending grape (especially in Bordeaux, where it’s blended with Merlot and other grapes). For those who do make wine solely from this grape, it’s common to enjoy aromas of black cherry, licorice, violets, earth, and even leather. It makes a very “suit and tie” kinda wine.

New-world producers make wine that is usually higher in alcohol from growing in hotter weather. These wines tend to have a little bit of black pepper and blackberry mixed into their aromas, and they usually have softer tannins.

The cheeses that love it

In either case, the spicy backbone and big mouthfeel allow these wines to stand up to some pretty powerful cheeses. Aged Pecorino from Tuscany is a total winner with Cabernet Sauvignon because of the shared full textures. Add a dollop of blackberry jam to round out the pairing. Cheddar is also a great choice for new-world wines - the cheese’s dense, chewy body and slightly sweet flavors emphasize the wine’s softness and exposure to oak during aging. Drive home the flavors with a cherry preserve.

For a bold combination, pair an old-world Bordeaux with Stilton. Yes, I know, it sounds crazy. (I’ve had more than one sommelier say to me I was completely wrong. So sad.) One of the kings of the blue cheese world, this noble fellow has a solid saltiness to it that gets all velvety with tannic wines. The blueing is significant and not subtle one little bit, so be prepared for intensity from start to finish with this pairing. Add in a wedge of really good fig cake or even some French prunes and then tell me I’m crazy.

LearnAdam Centamore