Cab Franc vs Cab Sav: What’s the Difference?

Cab Franc vs Cab Sav

Cab Franc vs Cab Sav are two of the most widely planted and consumed red wines in the world. Both grapes are members of the Vitis vinifera species and can be found growing in many wine regions, including France, California, Australia, and Italy. While Cabernet Franc is the parent grape for Cabernet Sauvignon, there are distinct differences between these two varietals.

Cab Franc vs Cab Sav

In this blog post, we’re breaking down their differences, so you can be a more informed consumer when purchasing a bottle. Originating primarily in France, these two grapes have grown to become classics on wine menus around the globe. To kick off our comparison of Cab Franc vs Cab Sav, let’s take a look at their primary distinctions and similarities!

Understanding the Differences Between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are both black grape varieties grown in regions across the world. However, Cabernet Sauvignon is the more widely known variety, as it’s been the most widely planted grape in the world for over two decades. On the other hand, Cabernet Franc is a lesser-known but important grape variety that’s often blended with other grapes in many wine styles. When compared to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc has a lighter color shade, lower tannin levels, and flavors of herbs, spices, and red fruits such as raspberry, red currant, and strawberry. Cabernet Franc is also known for its acidity, which gives it a fresh, gentle taste.

Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, is known for its dark, bold, and complex flavors. With flavor notes of dark fruits such as blackcurrant, blackberry, and black cherry, it has higher tannin levels than Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, with a well-rounded texture and a long-lasting finish. It’s also known for its ability to age well, and it can sometimes take years or even decades to reach its peak.

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon have their origin in Bordeaux France. Both grapes have since spread worldwide to regions such as California, Washington, Australia, Italy, and Chile. These regions have diverse weather conditions, soils, and wine-making techniques that affect how the grapes are grown and the flavors they produce.

When it comes to food pairing, both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon complement hearty meat dishes such as beef, lamb, and pork. Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with richer and heavier dishes, whereas Cabernet Franc pairs well with light pasta dishes and roasted vegetables. It’s important to note that both of these wines can have varying flavor profiles, depending on the region they come from, and the wine-making process can play a crucial role in the final flavor.

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are two grape varieties that have deep roots in the history of winemaking, and they both possess unique flavors, aromas, and tannin levels. While Cabernet Sauvignon is the more popular and widely known grape, Cabernet Franc has distinct qualities that make it a delicious wine in its own right.

Comparison Flavor profiles of Cab Franc and Cab Sav

Exploring the Flavor Profiles of Cabernet Franc

Now, we will delve into the various flavor profiles of Cabernet Franc, from its appearance to its alcohol content, and help you discover what makes this wine so unique.

Aroma – The aroma of Cabernet Franc tends to be quite complex. When young, the wine has a distinct fruity aroma, with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and plum. As the wine ages, it develops more complex aromas, such as cassis, green bell peppers, tobacco, and leather. The wine can also have a subtle earthy or floral aroma, depending on where and how it was grown.

Sweetness – Cabernet Franc is known for its dry, full-bodied taste. It is a wine that often has a low sugar content, which makes it perfect for pairing with savory foods. Because of its high tannin content, it can also be quite bitter. However, this tannin content also gives the wine its characteristic depth and complexity.

Body – Cabernet Franc has a medium to full body, which makes it a good pairing for a wide range of foods. It is not as heavy as some other red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, but it can still hold its own. A light-bodied Cabernet Franc will be more delicate, with a softer mouthfeel, while a full-bodied Cabernet Franc will be more complex and intense.

Tannin Levels – As mentioned, Cabernet Franc has a high tannin content (but lower than Cab Sauv, which gives it its characteristic bitterness. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds found in grape skins, seeds, and stems, and they can make the wine taste astringent. However, tannins also help to preserve the wine and give it structure, so they are an important element of Cabernet Franc’s flavor profile.

Acidity – Cabernet Franc has a good level of acidity, which makes it a refreshing and lively wine. The acidity helps to balance out the bitterness of the tannins and the dryness of the wine, creating a complex and nuanced taste. The acidity can also bring out the fruit flavors in the wine, making them more pronounced.

Alcohol Content – Finally, Cabernet Franc has a moderate alcohol content (11.5 – 13.5%), which gives it a good balance of flavors. A higher alcohol content can make the wine taste smoother and fuller, while a lower alcohol content can make it taste lighter and more refreshing. The alcohol content can also affect the wine’s aging potential, making it more complex and nuanced over time.

Cabernet Franc may not be the most well-known variety of wines, but it is certainly one of the most interesting. From its deep ruby color to its complex aromas and flavors, there is so much to discover in this wine.

Decoding the Flavor Profiles of Cabernet Sauvignon

Now, we’ll take a deep dive into the flavor profiles of Cabernet Sauvignon, and help you understand what makes this wine so unique.

Aroma: The aroma of Cabernet Sauvignon is intense and complex, with a wide range of scents including black currant, black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, and leather. The aroma is often described as “herbaceous,” with notes of eucalyptus, mint, and green bell pepper, which is a result of the grape’s high pyrazine content. The wine’s aroma is also influenced by the terroir, or environmental factors like soil type, climate, and altitude, where the grapes are grown.

Sweetness: Cabernet Sauvignon is generally considered a dry wine, which means it contains very little residual sugar. However, the perception of sweetness can vary depending on the ripeness of the grapes and the winemaker’s style. Ripe grapes can give the wine a fruity sweetness, whereas underripe grapes can result in a more herbaceous or vegetal flavor.

Body: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with a rich and complex texture. The body of the wine can also be influenced by factors like the winemaking process, the aging process, and the level of alcohol.

Tannin levels: Cab Sav has a high tannin level. Tannins are a key component of Cabernet Sauvignon’s flavor profile. High levels of tannins can give the wine a rough and chewy texture, whereas lower levels of tannins can make the wine more approachable and smoother. The tannin levels can be influenced by factors like the grape variety, the ripeness of the grapes, and the length of maceration during fermentation.

Comparison Flavor Profiles of Cab Franc and Cab Sav

Acidity: Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine with a medium level of acidity, which helps give it a refreshing and balanced taste. The acidity level can vary depending on where the grapes are grown and the winemaking style. Wines from cooler regions like Bordeaux often have higher acidity levels, whereas wines from warmer regions like Napa Valley can have lower acidity levels.

Alcohol Content: Cabernet Sauvignon is generally a high-alcohol wine, with an average alcohol content of 15% to 16%. The alcohol content can vary depending on the ripeness of the grapes, the fermentation process, and the aging process. Higher alcohol levels can give the wine a fuller body and more intense flavors, but it can also make the wine taste hot or unbalanced.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a complex and multifaceted wine, with a wide range of flavors and aromas. Understanding the various components of the wine’s flavor profile can help you appreciate the different nuances of the wine and make more informed purchasing decisions.


The flavor profiles of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are both complex and multifaceted, with a wide range of aromas and flavors.

Both wines have high tannin levels, which can give them a chewy texture. However, Cabernet Franc tends to be lighter-bodied than Cab Sauvignon with more herbaceous notes like eucalyptus, mint, and green bell pepper due to its higher pyrazine content.

In terms of sweetness, the perception will depend on the ripeness of the grapes used; ripe grapes may give the wine a fruity sweetness whereas underripe grapes can lend it an herbaceous or vegetal flavor.

Lastly, in terms of alcohol content, Cab Sav generally has a higher alcohol content (15% to 16%) than its counterpart (11.5 – 13.5%). This difference affects not only how it tastes but also its aging potential as well – with a fuller body and more intense flavors that develop over time when aged properly.

Overall, both varietals offer an interesting array of aromas and flavors each uniquely special in its way and worthy of exploring!

Comparison of Food Pairings for Cab Franc vs Cab Sav

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon both pair well with a variety of foods, ranging from rich red meats to vegetables. However, some subtle differences can make one varietal more suitable for certain culinary dishes than the other.

Cab Franc pairs particularly well with lighter dishes such as grilled fish, white meats, and soft cheeses. It also has a more herbal flavor profile than its counterpart which makes it a good pairing for dishes that contain herbs like sage or rosemary.

On the other hand, Cab Sav’s full-bodied texture and intense flavors make it an excellent choice for robust dishes like beef stew or lamb chops. Its flavors of blackberry and dark cherry also lend themselves well to sweet and savory dishes such as duck confit or ratatouille.

Another significant difference between the two varietals is their tannin levels; Cab Sav has higher tannins which can create an astringent flavor when paired with fatty foods like pork belly or foie gras. To counterbalance this, pair it with acidic ingredients like tomatoes or cranberries to bring out the wine’s complex fruit flavors while keeping the acidity in check.

Overall, both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon can offer enjoyable food-pairing experiences depending on individual preference and the particular dish at hand. When choosing between the two varietals, consider factors such as sweetness level, body type, tannin levels, acidity level, alcohol content, and flavor profile to ensure you select the best option for your meal!

Regions that Produce the Finest Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Wines

When it comes to fine wine, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are two of the most popular grape varieties in the world. These noble grapes both produce wines that are rich, complex, and age-worthy. But where are the best regions for these grapes grown and harvested? Here, we explore some of the top regions around the world where Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are grown and turned into extraordinary wines.

Bordeaux, France

Bordeaux, the birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon, is a region located in the southwestern corner of France, home to some of the most exquisite Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the world. The Cabernets of Bordeaux are known for their tannic structure, complexity, and ability to age, typically blended with other grapes like Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc.

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley is a wine region located in Northern California, famous for its premium Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The region, with its warm and sunny climate, provides a perfect growing environment for the grape. When grown, Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is rich in flavors, fruity, and has a deep color with a subtle tannic structure.

Tuscany, Italy

The Tuscany region in Italy is a popular wine region known for its Sangiovese grape. However, Cabernet Franc is another grape variety grown in the region and used in winemaking. The Cabernet Franc from Tuscany is known to be elegant, and smooth, and has aromas of black and red fruits.

Pomerol, France

Pomerol is a region located on the right bank of Bordeaux, famous for producing some of the most expensive wines in the world. The area is known for producing Merlot-based wines, but Cabernet Franc grapes are also grown in the region. The Cabernet Franc from Pomerol is known to have flavors of dark fruits, herbs, and spices, and a soft tannic structure.

Coonawarra, Australia

Coonawarra is located in South Australia, and it is one of the most famous wine regions in the country. The region is known for its Terra Rossa soil, which is ideal for growing Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra is said to have unique flavors, such as eucalyptus and mint, which are characteristic of the area.

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are noble grape varieties known for producing some of the most exquisite wines around the world. If you are a wine lover searching for the perfect glass of Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon, then you should consider trying these wines from different regions. Each of the regions mentioned above has its unique Terroir and climate, which brings out different flavors and aromas in the wine.

The Pros and Cons of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Grapes

Grapes are the fundamental ingredient in making the world’s most beloved beverage, wine. Among the many varieties of grapes grown and cultivated, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet are two of the most popular ones. These grapes are known for their intense flavor and aroma, which have made them the go-to choice for many winemakers. But what are the pros and cons of these grapes? Which one should you go for?

Cabernet Franc:

Cabernet Franc is a black grape variety that is grown in many wine regions. It is known for its subtlety in flavor, with a mild taste compared to other grape varieties. It has a unique aroma profile that includes notes of tobacco, green bell pepper, and cassis. Cabernet Franc is also known for its lower tannin content than Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah, and other grape varieties. One of the biggest advantages of Cabernet Franc is that it grows well in both hot and cool climates. This versatility makes it a popular choice for winemakers worldwide. However, Cabernet Franc can have lower yields, which can affect its commercial viability.

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Cabernet Sauvignon is a black grape variety that is widely grown in many wine regions worldwide. It is known for its robust flavor, which consists of black currant, dark cherry, and blackberry notes. Cabernet’s aroma is also bold, with hints of vanilla, tobacco, and leather. One of the most significant advantages of Cabernet is its high tannin and acidity content, which makes it a perfect aging wine. A well-aged Cabernet has a complex and subtle flavor that is unmatched by other grape varieties. However, Cabernet’s robust flavor might not be to everyone’s taste, and it might not pair well with certain foods.

Comparing the pros and cons of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet:

Both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Cabernet Franc is known for its mild flavor, lower tannin content, and versatility, while Cabernet is known for its robust flavor, high tannin and acidity content, and aging potential. Cabernet Franc is a more suitable option for those who prefer a subtle wine, while Cabernet is perfect for those who prefer a robust wine. Both grapes can be grown in various climates and regions, making them an attractive option for wine producers worldwide.

However, it is essential to note that the decision to choose between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet ultimately depends on personal preferences, winemaking techniques, and food pairings. For example, Cabernet Franc might be the perfect grape variety for those who prefer lighter foods such as vegetables and poultry, while Cabernet might be a great companion for foods like red meat and game. It is also essential to consider the price point of each grape variety, as Cabernet is generally more expensive than Cabernet Franc.

In conclusion, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sav are two of the most popular grape varieties used in winemaking worldwide. While both grapes have their unique advantages and disadvantages, the decision to choose between them ultimately depends on personal preferences, winemaking techniques, and food pairings.

Best Practices for Serving Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

Are you a wine enthusiast who loves to experiment with different varieties of wine? If that’s the case, chances are you have come across the popular red wine types – Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Well known for their unique flavors and aroma, these two red wines have a distinct tannin structure that requires special care for serving. Here, we’ll share some best practices for serving these wines that can help you impress your friends and guests who appreciate quality wine.

1. Decanting the wine

When it comes to serving Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, decanting can significantly enhance the aroma and flavor of the wine. For decanting, pour the wine into a decanter and let the wine breathe for about an hour. Keep in mind that older wines need more time to breathe compared to younger ones. You can also use a wine aerator to expedite the process of decanting, which also helps remove any sediment from the wine.

Best Practices for Serving Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon

2. Serving temperature

Make sure you serve both Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon at the right temperature. The ideal serving temperature for Cabernet Sauvignon is between 15-18°C (60-65°F), while for Cabernet Franc it’s between 14-16°C (57-60°F). To achieve this temperature, remove the wine from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. If the wine is too cold, the flavors and aroma will be masked, while if it’s too warm, the taste will be flat.

3. Glassware

The right type of glassware is key to experiencing the full range of flavors of these wines. A large-bowled wine glass is the most suitable type of glassware. A larger bowl directs the aroma toward the nose, which enhances the tasting experience. Additionally, a wider diameter ensures that the wine has enough room to breathe, which amplifies the flavors.

4. Food pairing

To truly savor the flavors of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, make sure you pair the wine with the right type of food. Cabernet Sauvignon goes best with red meat like steak, lamb, and venison, while Cabernet Franc pairs well with roasted game dishes like pheasant, duck, or rabbit. Also, try to avoid pairing these wines with spicy or sweet foods. A good rule of thumb is to match the intensity of the wine with the intensity of the dish.

5. Preservation

The last but most important point in serving Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon is preservation. If the wine is not stored properly, it can lose its flavor and aroma. So, store the wine in a cool, dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources, and never store it in the refrigerator before serving. Once the wine is opened, ensure it’s tightly corked and stored at a cool temperature, and try to consume it within two days.

Serving Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon requires some attention to detail but the result is worth it. By following these best practices, you can elevate your wine-serving game and take your guests on a journey of taste and aroma. Remember, the key is to decant the wine, serve it at the right temperature in the right glassware, pair it with the right type of food, and store it properly to preserve its unique flavors and aromas.

Tips on Selecting a Good Bottle of Either One

Nothing beats the feeling of enjoying a good bottle of wine after a long day at work. But with so many options available, choosing the right Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon wine can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. From taste preferences to regions of origin, there are many factors to consider when selecting a wine that suits your palate. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll go over some tips on how to choose the perfect Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wine that’ll make your taste buds sing.

Understand the different types of wine grapes

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon belong to the same family as they both belong to the red wine grape variety. Cabernet Franc is a medium-bodied wine with flavors that range from raspberry to violet.

Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine with flavors of blackberry, tobacco, and even green bell pepper. Knowing the different types of wine grapes and their traits will help you choose a wine that suits your taste.

Get Familiar with the Regions of Origin

Wine-making regions heavily influence the taste and characteristics of wine. Cabernet Franc is incredibly popular in the Loire Valley of France, while Cabernet Sauvignon is widely produced in Napa Valley, California. Knowing the regions of origin of your preferred wine variety can give you an idea of what flavors and aromas to expect.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Recommendations

Sometimes the best way to learn about new wines is to ask an expert. If you are at a restaurant or wine bar, ask the sommelier for their recommendations. Retail stores specializing in wines and spirits also have knowledgeable staff. If the salesperson is knowledgeable, they can recommend a bottle of wine that fits your specifications and budget.

Consider the Occasion

The occasion when enjoying wine has an impact on the type of wine to choose. If you are enjoying a rich meal such as steak, Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice. Meanwhile, a light pasta dish can pair well with Cabernet Franc wine. When selecting a wine, consider the type of meal or event where you will be enjoying it to choose the perfect pairing.

Personal Taste is Key 

At the end of the day, your personal preference is the most crucial factor in choosing the perfect wine. Don’t be swayed by recommendations or bandwagons, take the time to discover which wine taste suits you best. Start by experimenting with a variety of wines; who knows, you may discover a new favorite.

Choosing the perfect bottle of wine may seem daunting, but knowing your wine grape types, and regions of origin, asking for recommendations, considering the occasion, and personal taste are some of the most critical factors in selecting the ideal wine. Mastering the art of wine choice requires time, patience, and willingness to try.


1. What is the difference between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are two different grapes that share the same parentage. Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross of Cabernet Franc with Sauvignon Blanc, while Cabernet Franc is a natural variety originating in France.

2. Are they related to grapes?

Yes, they are related grapes as their parentage is the same.

3. How do their aromas and flavors differ?

Generally, Cabernet Franc has more delicate aromas and flavors than its hybrid offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon, often showing hints of red berry fruit, herbs, and mint rather than the typical black cherry and oak notes associated with its hybrid counterpart.

4. Where are these two grapes typically grown?

Both grapes are found worldwide and are often blended together, however, they typically grow best in warm climates with consistent rainfall. Cabernet Franc is more tolerant of cooler temperatures and can be found in regions such as France, Italy, and the United States. Meanwhile, Cabernet Sauvignon is predominantly grown in California, Australia, Chile, and various other New World countries where the climate is warmer and drier.

5. What food pairings best match each grape variety?

Cabernet Franc pairs well with lighter proteins such as white fish or vegetable dishes, while heavier meats like steak and pork are best suited for Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

6. Does one tend to be more tannic than the other?

Generally speaking, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to have a higher tannin level than its parent grape varieties which makes it better suited for aging.

7. Are there any flavor or aroma similarities between them?

Yes, both varietals tend to have herbal overtones and can share similar aromas of dark fruits like blackberries and currants as well as subtle notes of tobacco or cedar wood.

8. Do both benefit from aging in oak barrels for some time?

Yes, both wines benefit from some time in oak barrels, however, Cabernet Franc will often require less time than its hybrid offspring where full tannic integration is desired.

9. Does one produce higher alcohol content wines compared to another?

Generally speaking, Cabernet Sauvignon produces higher alcohol content wines than Cabernet Franc due to the warmer climates in which it’s grown.

10. Is one grape variety better suited for certain climates over the other for optimal ripening conditions and growth potential?

As discussed above, Cabernet Sauvignon grows best in warm climates with consistent rainfall while Cabernet Franc is more tolerant of cooler temperatures, meaning it can be found in regions with climates that are not as suited for the growth potential and optimal ripening conditions of Cabernet Sauvignon.


As we can see, there’s a noticeable difference between Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. While both grape varietals offer delicious and diverse wines, each has its own unique set of flavors and characteristics. Cab Franc is lighter-bodied and tends towards herbal aromas, while Cab Sav gives off dark fruit and high tannin profiles.

The best way to determine your preference for either or both of these wines is to try them for yourself! Visiting a vineyard, your local wine shop, or simply purchasing some at the grocery store are all great options if you want to compare them side by side. Above all else, remember to taste responsible and enjoy the journey that exploring these different types of wines can provide.

Thank you to readers for taking the time to hear our side-by-side comparison of two incredible wines – Cabernet Franc vs Cabernet Sauvignon. Cheers!

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