Wine Dharma

DharMag January 2020 Risky business: pairing Cabernet Sauvignon and food

Cabernet Sauvignon food pairings: here are the right dishes and recipes to pair Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine for special occasions, it lends itself to various combinations with food, especially when it comes to grilled and roasted meat. It is the perfect wine for the holidays and Christmas with all the roasts, braised meats, sauces and dips that circulate. But it is, despite the structure, also an excellent summer wine, to be paired with grilled meat and sausages: indeed Cabernet is the perfect wine for BBQ dishes thanks to its powerful roundness, smoky flavor, and massive tannins.

Let’s start by saying that Cabernet Sauvignon is a tannic and structured wine, with unique finesse and characteristics and a large and sumptuous aromatic. It is not a delicate or light wine.

It is not suitable for fish, salads, but it is an excellent wine for truffles, for fatty and flavorful dishes, such as Milanese risotto, Pisarei and fasò, meat rolls and meat pies.

Let’s see its aromas and flavors to understand which dishes to combine with Cabernet Sauvignon.


The Cabernet Sauvignon is like a walk in a forest: you will find blueberries, musk, truffles, traces of undergrowth, alpine herbs and mushrooms. But it is the sumptuousness of the fruit that leaves its mark: cherries in alcohol, black cherries, cooked plums, rhubarb, tamarind, and licorice. Being the son of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc we also find a sequence of herbaceous and smoked bell pepper aromas and with aging develops wonderful aromas of cedar and eucalyptus.

What does Cab taste like?

Cabernet Sauvignon is a powerful, unmistakable, full-bodied wine, with clear flavors and aromas that sculpt a remarkable structure. You can use its characteristics also to cook: it’s perfect to marinate meat or to prepare wine reductions and sauces.

Barbecue parties

Let’s start with the easiest: BBQ and all the meat cooked on the grill or smoked. The Cab is a ferocious carnivore: its thundering tannins make it perfect for the succulence of the meat of every self-respecting grill. Moderate the spiciness that would burn with the tannins and choose smoked foods to create harmony with its smoky aromas. Sausages, ribs, liver, T-bone steak.

Meat with reductions and fruit sauces

Pair dishes prepared with sauces or reductions with the same fruits you find in wine: try a good Cabernet Sauvignon with pork tenderloin and plums, or a pork chop with cider and apples.


Cabernet is indicated for tasty meats with a sweet aftertaste, such as duck: bigoli with meat sauce, duck breast with mushrooms.

Chops with BBQ or Carolina mustard

Whether they are pork or beef does not change the great love that Cabernet has for ribs! Even tri-tip with a coffee rub or a simple meat roll wrapped in bacon are perfect!

Texan BBQ

Brisket and pulled pork are two great smoked dishes seasoned with sweet and sour sauces. So let’s pair a spicy and smooth Cabernet Sauvignon like Corallo Blu from Gallegati winery.


The forest scents of the truffle are an irresistible call for a good Cabernet, try it with simple, divine truffle risotto.

Chinese food

Avoid spicy at any cost, no Sichuan dishes, but try the Cabernet from Casa Benna winery with Peking lacquered duck or even a simple ginger veal.

Meat with mushrooms
A beef fillet with porcini mushrooms, a fillet with balsamic vinegar, even a simple slice of meat is good with the strong and charming Cabernet from Rinaldini cellar. Try it with Lomo a lo Pobre: ​​a nice steak with a fried egg on top. Gorgeous!


Cabernet and lamb are a classic wine and food pairing that goes beyond the borders of every time and regio. We can find this wedding of flavors in California as in New Zealand, but we remain in Italy to uncork the Cabernet of the Radikon winery. The sweet and wild taste of lamb is a boon for the warm and spicy fruit of Cabernet.


For assonance, peppers in the dish and the wine, combine the Cabernet of the Cà del Vént winery with a classic dish of peppers stuffed with rice, meat, and chorizo. Muy sabroso and smoked!

Marinades for meat

Let’s not forget that Cabernet is also great for marinating every piece of meat, especially beef. Ribs or steaks, whatever you like: just uncork, sip, pour in a bowl, season with oil, rosemary and let the meat rest in the arms of Cabernet for a couple of hours.

Comfort food

Simple food is made great by an elegant wine such as Cabernet: with a cheesesteak sandwich, a Bolognese lasagna or ginger beef, uncork a Cabernet and everything is gonna be fine.


Let’s finish with a classic pairing: hamburgers. To smooth the impact of a fat, delicious hamburger, Cabernet works wonders!

Matches to avoid

  • Spicy food: no jalapeño amigos!
  • Fish, seafood, salmon
  • Sweet dishes
  • With elegant dishes but with delicate flavors: the Cab is a tough wine and requires flavors that can stand up to it!
  • As an aperitif: the Cab is very tannic, so unless you have a wine of great value in your hands, it is better to combine it with a strongly flavored dish to unleash its full potential.
Photo credits