Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a diverse spectrum of climates from Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley.
Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized first through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet franc. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Coonawarra region and Chile’s Maipo Valley.
For most of the 20th century, it was the world’s most widely planted premium red wine grape until it was surpassed by Merlot in the 1990s. Despite its prominence in the world of wine, the grape is a relatively new variety being the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc sometime during the 17th century in southwestern France.
Its popularity is often attributed to the ease of cultivating, with the grape’s thick skins and hardy vines being resistant to rot and frost, as well as the grape’s consistency in presenting structure and flavors expressing the typical character (“typicity”) of the variety. Familiarity and ease of pronunciation have aided Cabernet Sauvignon wines to be good sellers among consumers, even when from unfamiliar wine regions. Its widespread popularity has also contributed to criticism of the grape as a “colonizer” that takes over wine regions at the expense of native grape varieties.