Winter’s Big Winners: Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blends

Dec. 3, 2019


When it comes to wine, there is one thing that most people in our industry can agree on.


“Cabernet sauvignon is the indisputable king of wines,” said Christopher Rowell, Breakthru Beverage Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier.


That statement pretty much holds true year-round. Now, on top of its evergreen popularity, we are entering the time of year when this wine shines even brighter as it pairs perfectly with the colder months ahead. Cabs are served at a warmer temperature and typically have a higher level of alcohol and distinctive tannins, which all adds up to a wine that warms like a hug.


On top of all that, cabernet sauvignon is an ideal partner for classic cold-weather meals because the cab doesn’t get lost in the savory flavors of the food, which makes the wine a prolific—and profitable—part of any wine selection.


“Cabs typically claim the largest share of real estate on restaurant wine lists, and at highest prices,” Rowell said. “It’s a brawny, muscular and powerful wine, praised for its structure, power and longevity.”


Cabernet sauvignon isn’t the only big red that pours well this time of year, though.


Big Red Blends


The market for red blends continues to grow, Rowell explained. During this time of year, non-red wine drinkers will often seek out a red that suits their tastes, and they aren’t looking to take the commanding cabernet head on.


This presents an opportunity for the red blend.


“There are a lot of wineries that use low tannins, and minimize astringency when producing their blends,” Rowell said. “There is a definite demand for winter reds that are less dry, and perhaps a tad sweet. These are the situations that inspire the need for a good red blend.”


There is no one type of red blend, either. Every blend tastes different because the winemaker can use an infinite number of varietal combinations during production.


This season, Rowell recommends a couple different kinds of red blends that would put any bar program or retail store in position to win with their own customers.


Bordeaux Blends


Here’s where someone can enjoy a cab in small doses. There are five red Bordeaux varieties: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit Verdot.


There are two main types of red blends in Bordeaux.

  • LEFT BANK: Cabernet sauvignon-based, with the other four varieties usually completing the blend.
  • RIGHT BANK: Merlot-based, with cabernet franc usually completing the blend, though all five varieties can be used.


Modern High-Octane Blends


These include more unusual compositions like zinfandel, petite sirah and grenache. These wines are highly refined, with soft, luxurious texture and ABV levels of 15% or higher.



Talk to your Breakthru rep about our expansive portfolio of cabs and red blends so that your customers won’t be left out in the cold this winter.



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