Monday, October 27, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week: What to Eat with your Big Cab

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the red wines that people new to red wine often try - mostly because of familiarity with the varietal. Hey - it is the red that put Napa (and some parts of  Bordeaux, France) on the map right? 

I believe that some mishaps with food pairing and Cabernet Sauvignon may tragically scare some newbies away from the fantastic wonders of red wine. So here are some dos and don'ts for your consideration to help make sure you get the most out of your wine.  Cabs can be VERY expensive, but no matter how great the wine - team it up with the wrong food and it's not's not funny!

Cab Pairing Dos.  Cabs tend to be big and bold - tannic, high alcohol, and typically made with plenty of time in oak barrels.  With bitter tannins you need food with a bitter element to fight fire with fire.
  • Grilled red meats - cooked to no more than medium rare.  The char from grilling adds a bitter taste for the tannins. The bigger and more tannic the wine - the rarer the meat should be. Like your meat closer to well done - go for a Pinot Noir or other lighter bodied red.
  • Bitter side dishes - some bitterness in your side dishes, will also go nicely with your big cab - think bitter greens like mustard or collard, radicchio, or a grilled vegetable that will also get a good char - like eggplant.
  • Black Pepper - on almost anything will provide a bitter component to go with your Cab. Have a companion that doesn't like bigger Cabs but you do? Have them order something like a pepper crusted steak, or a Steak Au Poivre and the wine will taste less tannic to them. Cool right???
Cab Pairing Don'ts. These are food pairing don'ts that could ruin the flavor and balance of your wine or overpower the food - and none of us want that!
  • Hot and spicy foods - the capsaicins that create the heat in dishes will accentuate the alcohol and tannin levels in your Cab and make a good wine taste just gross!
  • Delicate fish dishes - Cab can work with heartier fishes like swordfish or shark, but you are better off with a lighter red or a heavier white like a Chardonnay.
  • Cheeses - Cabs can pair with some cheeses, and various experts disagree on what cheeses go well. With the right Cab, I absolutely love a reasonably strong blue cheese - but others say this is blasphemy.  My advice is to stick with Pinots, Spanish Reds, and other lighter style reds for your cheese - just in case.

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