At the cellar-worthy high-end, Cabernet Sauvignon beguiles wine-enthusiasts for its opulent dark fruit flavors, complex mocha and spice notes, hints of cedar and decidedly elegant structure. Pair with prime steaks or rack of lamb for grandest of gatherings.
Fortunately, for more casual nights, everyday-priced Cabernets offer plenty to love, too. Classic examples exhibit soft dark fruits (such as cassis and black-cherries) balanced with sweet vanilla, toasty oak and a touch spice.
These hearty wines can take on robust, meaty main dishes—without taking a lot out of your wallet. And their soft tannins help those last few sips in the glass transition gracefully as you move from the table to the fireside.
Here are some bottles to look for as the season for stews, roasts, and braises comes into full swing.
Whether you’re picking up a meaty pizza or coming home to a slow-cooked stew, these bottles offer great value. Also consider them when it’s party-time at your place.
- Calina 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Valley, Chile; $10):If you’re a fan of Chile’s soft, easy-drinking takes on Carmenere and Merlot, you’ll like this smooth Cab, too.
- Mirassou California 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (California; $12):The zesty spice notes on the finish of this fruity sip will add intrigue to simple weeknight fare.
Here are some picks to consider when gathering friends—or simply packing all the pleasure you can into your weekend meals.
- Murphy-Goode 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (California; $14): Look for dark berry-cherry flavors, firm tannins and toasty-oak in this pick, and pour it with a well-marbled roast.
- Bonterra 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino and Lake Counties; $16): This cab takes a walk on the bright side of the fruit spectrum, with currant, cherry and red-berry notes delicately woven with vanilla and spice tones.
The Special-Occasion Choice
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (Horse Heaven Hills, Washington; $28): For gift-giving and special occasions, this is an elegant Cab everyone will remember. Find sweet oak notes and hints of herbs amidst deep fruit, and revel in its long, lingering finish.
—By Wini Moranville, a food and wine writer in Des Moines, Iowa.