Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot: What's the Difference?

Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot: What's the Difference?
Standing in front of a grocery store’s wine rack can prove daunting. You want to examine the prices and the name to evaluate quality. Sometimes you need to ask for help. A sommelier on hand can help, especially in gourmet shops. 

Yet, knowing some basics about wine would help. The grapes are always a good start since the grapes determine most vintage names. Then you can make an educated guess on what gift to bring for your friends or to serve with dinner.

With two particular grapes, the neighbors have their similarities. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon come from the Bordeaux region of France, and they vary in what they bring out of the bottle. Sometimes they’re even blended together to combine their aromas. The grapes have spread all over the world, growing in vineyards and in people’s minds.  

Knowing Cabernet Sauvignon or your Merlot can help determine what bottle to bring to your next potluck or office function. You can also decide what to order at a restaurant to go with your bouillabaisse or chicken breast. 

Merlot and Cabernet

Cabernet Sauvignon is a fruity wine, known for its full-bodied flavor. We would call this grape quite bold and strong. You will taste acid and tannins, and if it spills you will see a dark-red stain. 

The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes entered the wine world from Pauillac, France. Despite having rumored origins from Roman times, the specific grape didn’t grow until the 1600s and was cultivated one hundred years later. Good wines take time to ferment and to hit people’s taste buds correctly. Winemakers like the grape because it has thick skin and spoils less easily.

For your next dinner party, a Cabernet is good when your dishes have complex tastes or lots of fat. They are great when you are serving foie gras, lamb stew, or filet mignon. If you want to stay vegetarian, they also work with spicy Indian curry that has cardamom and garam masala. 

In contrast, merlot has less body. The wine is medium-bodied and low on tannins, and it has a smaller amount of acid. It also is sweeter and less dry. 

Merlot grapes originated from the Bordeaux region of France. With that said, they are not exclusive to France the way champagne grapes are; you can savor them from American vineyards as well. 

The wine is good when you want a mellower brew. It can pair with dishes similar to those of cabernet, but you can go mellower. Instead of lamb chops, try them with veal chops and lamb burgers. 

Your sense of adventure really determines the difference between these two wine types. Some days you may want to sink back in a chair with a glass of Cabernet. 

More From About How Wines Taste is dedicated to teaching consumers about relatively obscure wines for good prices. At our shop in Aventura, we can offer guidance and samples. We like to introduce you to new vintages, and makers. 

Contact us today to learn about the bottles and our wine club. We can get you started on more wine. 

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  • Alyssa Alvarez
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