Cabernet Sauvignon wines are among the most popular full-bodied red wines. Follow the key etiquette rules sure to store, serve, pair, and drink Cabernet Sauvignon wines the right way.

a glass of cabernet sauvignon wine

What Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette is

Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and drink Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette to appropriately serve it to your guests.

If you are a guest, respect Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette rules to properly drink and enjoy it.

What you should know about it

Merlot wines are among the most popular red wines.

What it is

Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of grapes with red skin. It can be the sole grape used in the production of a specific wine, or it can be blended with other grapes. Several wine regions grow Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Bordeaux and Medoc in France. Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy. Washington and California in the USA. Argentina. Chile. Australia.

Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to be bold and fruity in flavor. Full-bodied in texture. Dark red in color.

how to serve and drink cabernet sauvignon

Etiquette rules for serving and drinking Cabernet Sauvignon

1) How to store Cabernet Sauvignon

Store Cabernet Sauvignon in a cool place. Keep the bottle away from direct light. Either natural or artificial. Store the bottle far from any source of heat. You can store Cabernet Sauvignon in your cellar for over 10 years.

Place the bottle in a horizontal position, to keep the cork moist. Dry corks might let the oxygen in and spoil the wine.

Do not store it in the fridge or in the freezer.

2) How to prepare Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon wines benefit from decanting. The contact with the oxygen makes the texture and flavors of the wine more gentle to the palate.

Before serving, pour the full bottle of wine into a decanter. Then, let the wine breathe. The amount of time needed for decanting depends on the wine and on personal tastes. However, Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to be very full-bodied. Thus, it is best to let them breathe for at least 30 or 60 minutes.

You do not need to cool Cabernet Sauvignon wines before serving.

Avoid chilling glasses in the fridge. The condensation waters down the wine and dilutes its taste.

3) How to serve & present Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon wines usually taste better between 16°C and 20°C (60°F and 68°F). Cooler temperatures prevent the wine from releasing its aroma. Thus, do not put the bottle in the fridge. Similarly, do not keep the bottle in an ice bucket.

Present Cabernet Sauvignon in its bottle or in the decanter. On formal occasions, it is best to present the wine in its bottle, even if you let it decant first. After decanting, pour the wine back into its bottle using a small kitchen funnel.

Hold the bottle by its body, never by its neck or cork. Serve Cabernet Sauvignon in red wine glasses, which are larger and wider compared to white wine glasses. Fill the glass between ⅓ and ½.

4) When to serve & drink Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon wines are great to accompany a meal or as after-dinner drinks. They can fit well both formal and informal occasions. Such as a formal dinner or a drinking party.

However, Cabernet Sauvignon wines may be too bold and full-bodied for pre-meal drinks or a light meal. For the same reasons, it is best to avoid serving them in warm weather.

Cabernet Sauvignon can match an important meat course or cheese platter during a meal.

5) Food & aromas to pair Cabernet Sauvignon with

The ideal food pairings depend on the variety of Cabernet Sauvignon, and on its body and aromatic profile.

In general, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with strong flavors.

Pair it with strong cheese. Such as Cheddar or Gorgonzola. Accompany it with flavor-rich courses. Such as venison meat, meat stews, grilled tuna, and strong sauces.

Avoid pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with light and delicate foods, as it will cover their flavor.

6) Etiquette for drinking Cabernet Sauvignon

Drink Cabernet Sauvignon in red wine glasses. Hold the glass by its stem to avoid warming the wine with your hand.

Drink it in small sips. Aged and bold Cabernet Sauvignon is often a meditation wine. Thus, a glass should last between 15 and 30 minutes. Never drink shots.

Never add ice to Cabernet Sauvignon. First, ice waters down the wine and its bouquet. Furthermore, ice is usually added to low-quality or cheap beverages. Thus, adding ice can be seen as an offense to the quality of the wine, and therefore to your host.

cabernet sauvignon etiquette worst mistakes

Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Getting drunk.
  • 7/10. Drinking shots.
  • 7/10. Pairing Cabernet Sauvignon with delicate aromas.
  • 6/10. Not holding the glass by the stem. 
  • 5/10. Adding ice.
  • 3/10. Not decanting it.

Additional information for properly serving Cabernet Sauvignon

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.

On average, Cabernet Sauvignon wines contain about 80 calories per 100 ml (3.5 oz). A single glass is typically 150 ml (5 oz) and has 120 calories.

How to buy the best Cabernet Sauvignon

A crucial factor in Cabernet Sauvignon etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.


Cabernet Sauvignon wines are available all year round.

Choose the best

To choose your ideal Cabernet Sauvignon, the safest choice is to buy wines from an established wine region. In Europe, look for wines from Bordeaux and Medoc in France, or Piedmont and Tuscany in Italy.

Cabernet Sauvignon from new world wine regions is increasingly popular and of high quality. Such wines tend to be lighter in body and with a fruitier aroma. Try wines from the states of Washington and California in the USA, Argentina, Chile, and Australia.

Alternatives to Cabernet Sauvignon

You can substitute Cabernet Sauvignon with red wines that have a comparable body and aroma profile. Try Shiraz or Tempranillo.