Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing Ideas: 9 Must-Trys

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Steak artfully plated with spring vegetables on a table with a glass of red wine

It’s no secret that pairing a great wine with a delicious dish can turn an ordinary meal into an incredible dining experience. Considering the elements of the wine as well as the elements of the dish is essential for creating that perfect combination.

Let’s take a look at Cabernet Sauvignon. Originally from France, this bold, full-bodied red has medium to high levels of both tannins and acidity. It’s a dry wine that features notes of dark fruits (including cassis, black cherry, and blackberry), green bell pepper, and black pepper. Oak aging imparts hints of vanilla, clove, and tobacco. At first glance, it might appear that such an intense wine might be difficult to pair with food. On the contrary, it’s the perfect complement to many dishes.

What to Serve With Cabernet Sauvignon

If you’re looking for great pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon, here are nine recommendations:

1. Steak

While it may seem obvious, steak truly is one of the best partners for Cabernet Sauvignon. Generally, fattier cuts served rare to medium-rare, such as a New York strip, ribeye, and sirloin, work best with this particular red. High levels of tannins and acidity cut through the fat, cleansing your palate so each bite is as delicious as the last. Meanwhile, steak’s fat and protein lessen the astringency of the wine, making it taste smooth and bringing out its fruity flavors.

When serving steak with Cabernet Sauvignon, grilling is always a great option. If you prefer a sauce, opt for a red wine reduction, dark mushroom, or peppercorn sauce.

2. Burgers

What are burgers but a casual twist on steak? As such, Cabernet Sauvignon makes a great accompaniment. However, your choice of toppings will play a role in the success of this pairing. Top your burger with cheeses like smoked Gouda, aged cheddar, or blue cheese, plus bacon, and sauteed mushrooms, for a delectable meal. 

3. Lamb

If you aren’t fond of steak, roasted or grilled lamb alongside a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is a must-try alternative. Like steak, lamb is rich and fatty. It’s also slightly sweet. Cabernet Sauvignon’s acidity and tannins cut through the fat, keeping it from coating your palate, while the tannins help balance the subtle sweetness. The wine's fruit flavors complement the richness of the meat beautifully. 

Try cooking your lamb with rosemary and thyme. These pungent, earthy notes complement Cabernet Sauvignon’s natural qualities to elevate your dining experience.

4. Eggplant Parmesan

While many consider Cabernet Sauvignon a red meat-only wine, it can also pair wonderfully with heartier, heavier vegetarian dishes. Eggplant Parmesan is a perfect example. It’s savory, herbaceous, and cheesy, all characteristics that work well with Cabernet Sauvignon. The rich, soft texture of the eggplant also offers a nice foil to the wine’s prominent tannins. 

When serving eggplant Parmesan with Cabernet Sauvignon, consider roasting or baking instead of frying. These methods of preparation add depth and intensify flavors for the most harmonious pairing.

5. Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom risotto is a delightfully creamy, decadent dish consisting of rice, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms. You can use any type of mushroom, though portobello, button, and shiitake varieties tend to be the most popular. 

When it comes to the perfect wine pairing for mushroom risotto, Cabernet Sauvignon makes sense for several reasons. The wine’s high acidity slices through the heaviness of the dish, allowing you to enjoy every bite. At the same time, the risotto’s creaminess brings balance to Cabernet Sauvignon’s tannins. Additionally, the bold flavors of the wine enable it to stand up to the mushrooms' earthiness.

Looking for other Cabernet Sauvignon pairing ideas featuring mushrooms? Give these dishes a try:

  • Mushroom ragu
  • Mushroom tarts
  • Grilled or baked portobello mushrooms
  • Stuffed portobello

6. Smoked Tofu

Tofu has a bit of a reputation for being flavorless and, dare we say, boring. Prepared well, however, it can become an exciting ingredient to pair with Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The key is to smoke your tofu and serve it with a hearty legume like stewed lentils. Doing so keeps the dish from being overpowered by such a bold wine. Smoking also helps the tofu play nicely with oak-aged Cabernet Sauvignons and balances the fruity notes in the wine. 

7. Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Wine isn’t only for sit-down meals. Sometimes, the best pairings involve appetizers or snacks. And one of the best hors d’oeuvres to accompany a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon is bacon-wrapped dates, especially those stuffed with salty goat or tangy blue cheese. High tannins temper the richness of the bacon, while bacon’s fat content offsets the wine’s astringency and bitterness. Cabernet Sauvignon’s black fruit flavors and the natural sweetness of the dates work together wonderfully. 

8. Cheese Platter

Wine and cheese are another duo that's simply meant to be. The best options for Cabernet Sauvignon are semi-hard, aged varieties, such as cheddar, Gouda, and Gruyère. These cheeses bring a high enough fat content to balance the tannins in the wine, while their aging helps to bring out the wine’s fruity notes. A stronger blue cheese like Roquefort is a delicious choice, too. It’s tangy, salty, and intense, making it an ideal match for a more intense wine. 

9. Chocolate Cake

Believe it or not, Cabernet Sauvignon can go well with desserts, too, notably those of the dark chocolate variety. Rich, decadent dark chocolate complements the fruit flavors of the wine, while the dessert’s sweetness balances the tannins. Not a fan of cake? Try Cabernet Sauvignon alongside bittersweet chocolate truffles.

Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing Tips

Ready to find your own perfect food pairings for Cabernet Sauvignon? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Full-bodied wine works best with fattier cuts of meat
  • How meat is cooked will affect the flavor (try rare to medium-rare red meat with Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Consider your sauce
  • Food should match the intensity of the wine
  • Serve wine at just below room temperature (55° to 65° F) for the best results

Find Your New Favorite Pairings With JJ Buckley Fine Wines

The most important thing to remember when pairing wine with food is to have fun. These are only a handful of great Cabernet Sauvignon food pairing options to try. Experiment with others, and who knows? You may come up with some novel gems.

The best food and wine pairings start with incredible wines. At JJ Buckley Fine Wines, you’ll find a vast selection of top-quality varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon. If you need a little help, our expert wine consultants are always ready to offer advice and recommendations. Browse our selection online and place your order today.