First, when pairing wines and food, I always suggest eating and drinking what you like, but many people like some help in discovering what can create those amazing food matches. Consider the intensity of your wine or food and go from there.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a big wine with intense flavor, full body and structure (acids and tannin). A wine like this needs to be paired with richer more intense foods – delicate dishes would be overwhelmed.
There are a few “classic” food pairings for Cabernet. Meats like lamb and steak naturally work with Cab because the meats are high in fatty proteins which coat your mouth with fat. The high levels of tannin in Cabernet bind with the proteins of the meat and clear your palate making your mouth ready for the next bite.
Cabernet From Different Regions & Climates May Call for Different Food Pairings
Region can affect flavors, aromas, weight, tannin and acid in a wine. These factors should be considered when pairing food and wine.
Warmer climate Cabernet like those from Napa, Argentina, Spain or Australia, will be fuller in body, have softer tannins in youth and are typically “fruitier”. Try pairing these wines with heavier more complex dishes and sauces. Incorporating salt, acid or fruit flavors may enhance these wines. Try a Balsamic glaze with beef tenderloin paired with a Napa Cab or even a Bacon Cheeseburger with a great cab from Australia.
Cooler climate Cabernets will be slightly leaner, younger wines may have “grippy” tannins and more herbaceous flavors, like wines from Bordeaux, Chile or Washington State. These wines pair better with simpler dishes and sauces. Herbed lamb kabobs would pair well with a Bordeaux from Medoc. Try a Washington Cabernet with meatloaf and herbed mashed potatoes.
Experiment with different flavors in food and wines, see what combinations work and what you enjoy the most!