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April 18, 2009

WINE: Cabernet — the big wine that gets all the attention

TERRE HAUTE — Cabernet Sauvignon – even the name sounds royal. That’s appropriate for a wine often thought of as the King of Red Grapes!

Cabernet, or “Cab,” is the world’s best known grape varietal. It is the big wine that gets all the attention, headlines, and often sells for really big bucks.

Now let’s be honest here, Cabernet is not what I’d recommend for beginning wine drinkers or even novices. It’s very difficult to find good ones under $20 and it is generally a big-flavored, very tannic, red wine.

But it is the wine most people have heard of and read about. It is the primary grape in the great French Bordeaux wines and it dominates California’s Napa Valley. It is the one red wine most often put away in the cellar to age for a few years, or many years, before drinking.

It’s a hearty grape that is easy to grow, at least in comparison to many others. It likes warm climates and has spread to every major wine growing region of the world.

And you can’t go to any grocery and not find a Cab on the shelf. In a wine shop you’ll find Cabs from around the world.

There are many big wines that are actually blends with Cabernet. The traditional Bordeaux blend has long been Cab, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Now days you might find just about any red wine grape blended with Cabernet to soften the big grape’s flavor.

Being a big and brawny grape it’s the wine you want with a great steak. Cabs are usually very dark wines with a flavor of cherry, bell pepper or even green olive. You can almost always taste the oak used in the aging process on the finish as you swallow the wine.

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