Ten Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairings: Recipes and Tips
While we believe that red wines should be enjoyed on a daily basis – for health as well as making every meal special – pairing particular red wines with food, like cabernet sauvignon, can be daunting. Tannins, acids and alcohol levels all play a part in this delicate dance. Restaurant sommeliers study for years to learn this special craft, but there can be pleasure and ease in a simple, unpretentious cabernet sauvignon food pairing.
Given its bold personality, the way some cabernets are crafted can mask a subtle dish. Choosing the right recipe and ingredients are crucial. According to Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, high alcohol wines with ample tannins create the perfect pairing for many beef dishes like slow-cooked, braised meats or classic grilled ribeye steaks. These fattier cuts of beef counter the astringent tannins. But when you opt for a softer, more balanced cabernet like Jordan, more menu options become available, from poultry to fish to even dessert.
We’ve assembled a sophisticated menu of ten inventive cabernet sauvignon food pairing recipes, with the hope that your home kitchen can become as food-pairing friendly as a restaurant.
Ten Unusual Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairings
In this recipe, the finest of all Spanish hams, Jamón ibérico de belotta, is complemented by the simplicity of local Sonoma fruit we find near the winery and aged sherry vinegar. The subtle depth and warmth of this appetizer recipe bursts to life when paired with the elegant fruit expression and lively acidity of a cabernet sauvignon that’s balanced in tannins, alcohol and acidity.
A Jordan Winery cabernet pairing favorite. The earthy notes of roasted beets, the savory grilled shallot flavors, and toasted walnuts’ tannins all complement the oakiness found in an elegant cabernet.
This vegetarian appetizer recipe is the perfect start for a wine pairing dinner for red wine lovers. Sunchokes have an earthiness that complements cabernet sauvignon, and when grilled, they further enhance the toasted oak notes in the king of reds.
In his book Perfect Pairings: A Master Sommelier’s Practical Advice for Partnering Wine with Food, Evan Goldstein, states the key to making alternative cabernet sauvignon food pairings work is the wine needs to be balanced with acidity and have lower alcohol. Cooking method matters too: “Because grilling and charring add similar bitter elements to food, it’s no surprise that such treatments make for successful pairings [with cabernet]. Playing to the oak is also a good rule of thumb… smoking and plank roasting work,” he says. Using his advice, we expanded our recipe repertoire to pork, lamb and duck breast. Surprising additions, but each dish is carefully tailored to complement the assertive flavors of the King of Reds.
This unexpected cabernet sauvignon food pairing with fish truly works. The unctuous, slightly bitter grilled fish pairs with the wine’s oaky character. And the tannic olives and saffron build a bridge to the ample fat and protein of the oily fish and olive oil. It’s an unconventional cabernet match only meatier fish like tuna can pull off.
Quick to prepare, this grilled pork tenderloin recipe is a blank canvas awaiting summer color from vibrant spices and our zesty wild rice pilaf. We make this pairing work by grilling the pork to add a bitter component, creating a great stage for our cabernet’s tannin structure.
A grilled lamb chops recipe which combines our first peas and milk-fed Sonoma Lamb, it celebrates the simple ingredients and makes for a quintessential spring dinner. Herbal notes of marjoram and thyme accent the earthiness of Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.
In our most traditional cabernet sauvignon food pairing, this Hanger steak (or Onglet) recipe is wonderfully tender and flavorful. We make it a light and healthy dish by serving the Hanger cut over a bright salad of tender spring asparagus from our garden. The richness of the grilled meat, coupled with a cabernet’s smooth tannins and acids pairs artfully.
Earthy mushrooms are another cozy food pairing companion to cabernet. Boosted by the acidity and meatiness of the porcinis, this recipe defies any naysayer of poultry paired with cabernet. The dark meat fattiness of the roasted duck creates a mouthcoating texture which balances out any edges.
This elegant side dish is the perfect accompaniment to a roasted leg of lamb. A generous addition of fresh ground black pepper on the grilled eggplant tames any sharp edges and the bitterness of the grilling method echoes the wine’s tannic structure.
In this classic American side dish, the earthy notes of the mushrooms and herbs, coupled with the caramelized notes of the shallots, allow these mashed potatoes to pair well with a cabernet that’s balanced with acidity and tannins. And it’s huge crowd pleaser.
Desserts – Two Bonus Recipes
Cabernet sauvignon food pairing lists rarely include dessert but we’ve found these recipes plus others which are up to the task.
If you’re looking for a dessert featuring fruit, blackberry cobbler is a summertime favorite. But with frozen berries available year-round, you can enjoy this classic year-round. The acidity and the luscious blackberries’ flavor mirror the fruit found in cabernet sauvignon and we reduce the sugar in the recipe to make the pairing sing.
One of the favorite desserts served at Jordan Winery Harvest Lunches, this easy chocolate mousse recipe is simple yet decadent, using only five ingredients in the cherished recipe. Each spoonful is the perfect blend of rich dark chocolate and luscious cream, making an intriguing dessert idea, especially when paired with an older vintage Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.