Cabernet Sauvignon and Meatless, Vegetarian, and Traditional Pairings

Cabernet and umami slider.

Recipe: Umami Sliders w/ Miso Mushroom Patties

Today’s modern diet demands “out-of-the-box” thinking. Food & wine lovers can look beyond the standard Cabernet and meat pairing. Cabernet complements fish and vegetables as well! Some say the true test of a chef is experiencing how creatively they pair wine with meatless dishes. We’ve included ideas for meatless pairings with Cabernet. Once you figure out how to create “meatiness” in vegetarian foods (both texturally and with umami) you can create some compelling. We’ve also included a traditional meat pairing as well!

The Key Flavors of Cabernet

It’s easier to treat wine as an ingredient that actively interacts with a dish –rather than something you sip on the side. The goal of a great wine pairing is to balance these taste components with a dish so that together the pairing highlights key flavors. The principle aromas and flavors of Cabernet are: black currant, black cherry, green peppercorn, bell pepper and mint. (source:Wine Folly).

Cabernet Paired with Meaty Fish (i.e., tuna, swordfish, mahi-mahi, shark)

Miso Tuna - Cabernet Paired with Meaty Fish
Recipe: Miso-glazed Seared Tuna

The idea that red wine doesn’t pair with fish simply isn’t true. It’s finding the right fish with the right seasonings and cooking method that will lead to success! When looking to pair Cabernet with fish, finding the right fish is important. “Meaty” is the keyword here. Densely textured and lean, think of these fish as you would pork chops or chicken breasts. Mediterranean flavors work well with these types of fish, as do sweet Asian sauces—teriyaki, gochujang, hoisin, white miso, nuoc cham, peanut, sweet chili—and spicy Mexican salsas. Try them tossed into pastas, tucked into tacos, sliced atop hearty salads and piled on buns in place of burgers. These fish work well grilled, broiled or seared in a cast-iron pan. Pack on a dry rub and grill until the fish flakes apart when prodded with a fork. (source: Wine Enthusiast)





Sommeliers Weigh in on Vegetarian Pairings with Big Reds

Lentil Chili
Recipe: Red Lentil Chili

“Bringing vegetables to the party with big reds is all about upping the umami quotient of the dish. Mushrooms, dried tomatoes, beans, and aged cheeses are all naturally high in glutamic acids, the flavor components that make meat and other foods taste savory and intense. Add umami bomb seasonings like soy sauce, nutritional yeast, dried seaweed, miso, smoked paprika, or ume plum vinegar to those ingredients to give your vegetarian recipes to give them a red wine-friendly depth of flavor. Dishes like baked pumpkin stuffed with red quinoa in a miso vinaigrette or roast mushrooms with braised celery and smoked paprika would be beautiful alongside a juicy red on a cool day.” 

—Steve Bowman (Fairsted Kitchen)


“One of my favorite vegetable dishes to pair with a big red wine is a wild mushroom red wine risotto with shaved parmesan. The earthiness and full-flavors of mushrooms and the savory creaminess of the risotto match perfectly with a lot of full-bodied and hearty reds.” —Eduardo Porto-Carreiro  (DBGB Kitchen and Bar) (source:


Traditional Grilled Meats

Pot roast.
Recipe: Instant Pot Grilled Ribs

Cabernet pairs well with grilled meats because the Umami and high fat in the meat will balance out the tannins. For pork barbecue, you’re often seasoning with sweet, spicy, smoky and tangy flavors and matching sauces.






Additional Food and Wine Pairing Resource

Book Cover: What to Drink with what you Eat
Available at Amazon or your favorite book seller.

Want to learn more? We recommend this great food and wine pairing companion.















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