Difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Wine is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. This is obtained from the grapes, when subjected to a process of alcoholic fermentation. Several factors influence the manufacturing process of a good wine. Among these are the altitude and latitude of the place where the grapes are grown, harvested and fermented, as well as the environmental temperature, the hours of sunlight, etc.

There are several types of wines, however one of the most popular is red wine. This type of wine is characterized by its reddish or red color and strong or dry flavor. Red wine, in turn, is divided into some varieties. Two of the most popular are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The first is distinguished by its tannic and dry flavor. This means that it has a strong flavor, although with a certain fruity hint. It is usually a good accompaniment for all kinds of red meats. This wine of French origin is the most popular type of wine in the world.

On the other hand, Merlot , while considerably smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon, is in much greater commercial demand. Also native to the Bordeaux region, its smoothness allows it to accompany dishes such as fish and even desserts.

Comparison table

Cabernet Sauvignon
General description Cabernet Sauvignon is the name of one of the best known grape varieties in the world. This is originally from France, more specifically from the Bordeaux region, and is the second most cultivated grape worldwide. The wine produced by the fermentation of this type of grape is usually strong and dry. Finer in flavor and smoother in texture than Cabernet Sauvignon, it was not long before it dethroned the world’s most popular wine (Cabernet) in sales. Its name comes from the French “petit oiseau noir” , or blackbird, since this bird consumes the first grapes of the season, the Merlot.
Characteristics This type of wine has a large amount of tannins. These are substances found in grape skins and seeds, as well as elsewhere, that serve to add astringency, dryness, complexity, and bitterness to the flavor of wine. This places it as one of the reds with the most potential. His alcohol level is medium to high. Merlot is similar to cabernet, however its flavor is usually much less tannic. This characteristic makes it lighter to taste, which allows it to accompany other types of food, cheeses and even desserts.
Its alcoholic strength is usually high due to the high level of sugar found in its grapes.
Regions The most popular region in which cabernet is produced is Bordeaux, in France. The climate of this region is ideal for the production of these grapes. In Italy, Tuscany is the leading producer of cabernet. However, it is also produced in Lombardy and Piedmont.
In America, Californian Cabernet Sauvignon is world famous. Other producing countries are Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay.
Originally from Bordeaux, France just like the cabernet. The country with the highest production of this variety is precisely France. Italy is the second largest producer of merlot, with producing regions such as Venice, Veneto and Giulia. 

Other countries with notable merlot grape and wine productions include Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. In America, Argentina is an important wine producer, however, Merlot is only the fifth most produced variety.

Pairing (accompaniment for…) Roasts, stews and red meats. Likewise, it is recommended to accompany game meats, such as venison, wild boar and rabbit. In the same way, it is a good accompaniment for foods that have sauces with strong flavors, as well as for grilled meats. Nuts and legumes, roasted vegetables and game meats. Due to the softness of its flavor, it is ideal to accompany some fish, such as salmon and tuna. In the same way it is a good accompaniment for some stews or light dishes and rice, cheeses (soft and light) and desserts.
Peculiarities Cabernet is a perfect wine for the aging process, as this increases its complexity and concentration. The ideal serving temperature ranges from 16°C to 18°C ​​for young wines and 18°C ​​to 20°C for aged wines. This type of wine is not very good when aged, because its tannins are very soft. That is why it is better to consume them young.
The ideal temperature for consumption is between 16 °C and 18 °C.
Grades Wines of this type tend to have fruity notes, with blackberry and blackcurrant flavors predominating. Some have slight hints of vanilla and cinnamon. Within the merlot, you can find some fruity notes, such as red and black fruits, blackberries, strawberries or strawberries. Among other notes it is also sometimes possible to notice aromas similar to fig, leather and tobacco.

Contents: Cabernet Sauvignon vs. merlot

1. About the grapes
1.1 Cabernet Sauvignon
1.2 Merlot
2. About its flavor
2.1 Cabernet Sauvignon
2.2 Merlot
3. About its aroma
3.1 Cabernet Sauvignon
3.2 Merlot
4. Gastronomic accompaniment
4.1 Cabernet Sauvignon
4.2 Merlot
5. Other data
6. References

about grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon

The grape variety that gives rise to this wine bears the same name. The grapes of this type are red grapes, that is, they are purple grapes or dark tones. Cabernets are, without a doubt, one of the most popular grape varieties in the world. Its origins lie somewhere between France (Pauillac) and Spain (La Rioja). This grape is the product of a cross between the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc varieties. This characteristic was not discovered until 1996, although it was to be expected, since each of these two varieties shares aromas with Cabernet Sauvignon.

It can be found in many areas around the world. This is because it has the ability to adapt and grow in many types of climates. Mainly, it can be found in France, Spain, Italy, California, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and South Africa among others.

In fact, this variety of grape is considered “easy”, this being the characteristic that has earned it the contempt of many producers who consider it a colonizing species that gains its space at the expense of local varieties.


The merlot grape is an aromatic and sweet grape with a dark and intense purple color. Small to medium in size, it is native to the Bordeaux region of France. This grape mainly requires cool climates or very little heat. Like Cabernet, Merlot is a highly adaptable type of grape. However, Merlot is often considered by many producers more as a complement strain, that is, it is used to combine with other types of grapes and produce wines other than Merlot.

Like the cabernet sauvignon, the merlot grape is very popular. It is thought that its name comes from the French “merle” or blackbird in Spanish, due to the resemblance between the color of the wine and that of the plumage of this bird. Vineyards dedicated to this type of grape can be found in northern Italy, in California (it is in fact the most commercially successful in the United States), Chile and Spain, among others.

about its taste

Cabernet Sauvignon

The strongest flavor in this wine is called green pepper. This flavor is a herbaceous one that is due to the presence of pyrazines. Pyrazines increase in the case of underripe grapes and decrease as the grapes mature. This flavor is desired by many and despised by others, however it is characteristic of this vine.

Two other common flavors are eucalyptus flavor and mint flavor, especially in grapes native to Australia, Washington, and California.


One of the main differences between Cabernet and Merlot is that Merlot is best consumed when young, while Cabernet is best served with a little aging before consumption. However, some Merlots benefit from a bit of maturation, this entirely depends on the place of origin of the wine. Merlots are high alcohol content wines. A bit similar to cabernet sauvignon, it differs in that it has a much less tannic flavor than this. Therefore, it is a light, sweet and easy to drink wine. The flavors perceived in this type of wine are plum, raisin, mint and honey.

about its scent

Cabernet Sauvignon

Its main aromas are black and red fruits. It also has aromas of violet, liquorice, cedar, tobacco and truffle. If the wine has an aroma of green peppers, this indicates a poor maturation process.


With fruity aromas, it usually presents aromas of currants, blackberries and red fruits, sweet peppers, violets, truffles and leather.

gastronomic accompaniment

Cabernet Sauvignon

Due to its strong flavor it is not recommended as an accompaniment to light dishes. This characteristic increases as the wine ages, as it tends to become stronger over time. Any dish (especially meat) that has been spiced with black pepper is favorable to accompany with this wine.

In the same way, any dish rich in fats and proteins helps cancel out the tannin flavor of the wine, thus allowing a better appreciation of the fruity flavors of the wine. Otherwise with foods rich in starches.


Merlot is the ideal accompaniment for dishes containing legumes, nuts, roasted vegetables, some fish, game meats (rabbit, venison, etc.) and red meats in general, rice and even with some desserts. This wine goes well with more robust, heavier dishes. For example, if you are looking for a fish to accompany a merlot, you should think of fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon or cod. In the same way, it is an excellent accompaniment for strong cheeses, such as Manchego, cheddar, brie and others.

Other data

  • Cabernet Sauvignon is akin to oak. It is precisely the vanilla and spicy flavor of this wood that complements the currant and tobacco flavors of this product. Merlot also pairs well with oak, however as it does not need to spend time maturing, this step is often unnecessary.
  • Recent studies have shown that moderate regular consumption of red wine helps prevent Alzheimer’s, dementia (and other degenerative brain diseases), cardiovascular diseases (prevents the formation of clots and protects blood vessels), atherosclerosis, among many others. In addition, the resveratrol present in these drinks helps combat the feeling of tiredness.
  • In the same way, the consumption of red wine helps prevent the formation of adipose tissue, that is, it prevents the formation of new fat cells.
  • Promotes the release of endorphins.
  • It is anticancer.

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