What Is A Cabernet?

What is a cabernet? A cabernet is a type of grape. There are two different types of cabernets. A cabernet is a type of grape that is used to make wine. There are two different types of cabernets, according...

A cabernet is a type of grape that is used to make wine. There are two different types of cabernets, according to Brian Hay, a chef and culinary instructor at Austin Community College. He has taught at ACC for the past nine years. The two different types of cabernets are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. "Everyone associates cabernet with cabernet sauvignon, which is one of the leading red grape varieties that you will find most winemakers deal with," says Hay.

According to Cellarnotes.net, a website dedicated to wine education, Cabernet Sauvignon is the premier wine grape in the world. It is the leading grape in the Bordeaux region of France and is used in every part of the world. It is widely planted and is significant among the five dominant varieties of wines and it is the most successful red wine produced and bottled in California. The characteristics of a Cabernet Sauvignon are that it is tannic, which means it can have various chemically different substances capable of promoting tanning, and it can have long aging potential.

The average cabernet is aged five to 10 years in order to achieve peak flavor. Typically, winemakers "blend it with other varieties to make wines with increased complexity," the website states. The grape is a small, dark, thick-skinned grape that gives average yields. The toughness of the grape makes it somewhat resistant to disease and spoilage and able to withstand some autumn rains with little damage. For the grape to achieve its maturity, it needs warmer growing conditions than other varieties. The taste consists of dark cherry, cedar, tobacco, black currant, and cooler climates give it the characteristics of green pepper or olive.

"Cabernet Sauvignon began to emerge as America's most popular parietal red wine in the mid-60's," states Professional Friends of Wine, a website dedicated to the study of wine. "By the late 1980's, it had replaced 'burgundy' as a consumer's generic term for red wine."

The other type of cabernet is Cabernet Franc. Both cabernet varieties are among the five major grapes of Bordeaux, France. Franc grapes are thinner skinned than Sauvignon, and are earlier ripening grapes with lower overall acidity, according to the Professional Friends of Wine website. The Franc vines survive cold winters better than sauvignon but are more inclined to being damaged by the spring frost weather. "France has by far the most cabernet franc plantings of any wine producing nation with over 35,000 acres," the website states. In the United States, Cabernet Franc is planted in Long Island, New York, and in Washington State. California has about 2,000 acres, mostly planted since 1980, over half in Napa and Sonoma.

The taste consists of fruitier and sometimes more herbal and vegetative tastes than Cabernet Sauvignon, though it's lighter in both color and tannins. Due to over-cropping and underexposure to sun, the vegetative flavor increases. It is somewhat spicy in aroma and can be reminiscent of plums and violets. It is secondary in blended red wines, instead of a stand-alone parietal bottling.

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