Known for its hefty palate and ability to stand up to the gamiest of meals, Cabernet Sauvignon is America’s favorite wine varietal, with sales amounting to more than $2.5 billion in 2019.
Cabernet Sauvignon, the result of accidental breeding of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, is known for its peppery and dark fruit notes and for stocking steakhouse cellars around the world. But while Cab is most often paired with red meat, the robust red wine is also a delightful accompaniment to roasted chicken, pasta dishes, and can even be enjoyed on its own.
With so many offerings flooding American wine shops, it can be hard to decipher which bottles are worth the spend. That’s why VinePair rounded up our 25 favorite Cabs of the year. With prices ranging from sub-$20 to $100-plus, this list has something for every budget.
This year, American Cabernets dominated our rankings, with top performers from California’s Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Central Coast exciting us most. Other top bottles came from Washington State, and others from faraway lands — including Australia and Argentina.
Here are 25 of the best Cabernet Sauvignons to buy right now, with reviews by VinePair tastings director Keith Beavers.
This is an excellent Cab with a meaty mouthfeel and depth of fruit. It smells like steak tartare and blackberries. The acidity is medium, balancing the savory fruit flavors. Rating: 92
The label on this wine looks like a wall tag that has been transformed into a tattoo. Usually, a label like this is used to distract from what’s inside, but here, what’s inside is as impressive as the label. This is a great, affordable, balanced Cab from Washington, with excellent acidity and just the right amount of oak. It will not overwhelm your palate, and is a badass bottle to give a host. Rating: 91
This wine is a great representation of Cabernet Sauvignon’s inherent characteristics. It has the depth you love from Cab but also contains that peppery note that can often be lost with too much oak. The alcohol is just right, making this an excellent weeknight wine. Rating: 91
Soft and supple, big and round, this is what Cab is all about. The rough edges of this grape are absent, giving the body a juicy quality and chewy mouthfeel. At $20, it’s a great weeknight dinner bottle, and an even greater gift for a host at a dinner party. I assure you, this wine will raise eyebrows and may become a new go-to. Rating: 91
This wine has the intensity that you love in Cali Cabs, but emanating out of that intensity is balanced power. It has the classic aromas that will remind you of cassis, blackberries, and cracked black pepper. The edges of the wine are still a bit rough with some young tannins, but it is drinking really well now. Fire up the grill, mash some potatoes, and invite some friends over. And check that price — nice, right? Rating: 91
This wine is so damn good, and, at just over $20, it’s one hell of a steal. If you see this bottle in the Cabernet Sauvignon section, don’t blink — just grab it and go. It’s soft and voluptuous, with a juicy, chewy fruit core. The tannins are woven in beautifully, adding to the depth. There is a flickering of classic cracked black pepper on the nose and palate. Also on the nose, you get a hint of raw meat. Pair this bottle with a steak, and you’ll be as impressed as I am. I promise. Rating: 94
This is one of the most balanced Napa Valley Cabs I have tasted in a while. If you like that extremely balanced style without being kicked in the face by oak and vanilla, this is the Cab for you. The fruit is focused, and the tannins are woven in. This wine isn’t widely available yet, but this bottle is worth the online purchase. Treat yourself and good friends. Rating: 94
This Cab really sings. It has such wonderful natural acidity that it won’t weigh you down and sets you up for a second sip. It smells like ripe blackberries, a hint of soil, and a whisper of vanilla. The tannins are woven in, giving the berry notes center stage. This is a great wine for all kinds of foods, from roasted chicken to cheese plates. Rating: 90
For a great everyday Cab, look no further. It smells like blackberries in fresh soil with a hint of vanilla, and the palate is juicy and round with good acidity. It’s a great casual sipper to pair with lean meats. Rating: 90
What an awesome American wine. It’s rich and bold, with great tannin structure framing the body. It smells like blackberries and balsamic, with a savory waft of white pepper. The mouthfeel is wonderful, with a balanced weight on the palate. This wine is a joy to drink and deserves a good, marbled cut. Rating: 92
With smells of blackberry jam and a whiff of vanilla and some earth, this wine has a solid balance on the palate with a nice, quiet, tannic grip. The fruit core is rich and focused. This is a good Cali Cab that checks all the boxes. Rating: 90
This is a great Cabernet — especially for the price. It’s big and full-bodied but very balanced. There is weight on the palate and a high alcohol content, but the acidity won’t let it overwhelm the palate. It’s still aging and the tannin structure is a little edgy, but it’s definitely drinking well now. Impress your boss or your parents with this bottle; it’s a solid foil for a thick steak. Rating: 91
This wine is still softening and reducing to its peak, but it’s drinking well now. The deep fruit core has a nice weight on the palate, and the aromas of blackberries and soil are starting to emerge. This is a wine for protein — and a lot of it. Rating: 90
This is a delightful California Cab. It’s still aging, but it’s drinking well now. It has edgy tannins that are still softening and a deep, rich fruit core that will remind you of blackberry jam. It’s so Cali and so Napa. This is a bottle to treat yourself with, gift to your boss, or bring to dinner with the parents. It has all the old-school vibes from back in the day, with all the balance and power of today’s more restrained style. Rating: 91
This peppery Cab has some jammy dark fruit flavors. It has a very balanced mouthfeel with soft fruit and well-woven tannins. The structure of this wine is so sound, it sings on the palate. You can even pair it with duck. Rating: 91
Rich, ripe, and beautiful, this wine smells like black and blueberries fresh off the vine and is still a little twiggy. The palate is extremely soft and deep. The tannins frame the wine around the edges, showing signs of some aging even in its youth. Rating: 92
Everything you think a classic Cali Cab should be is here. It’s powerful, structured, and focused. It’s still aging, drinking well now, and close to its peak. If you are going to splurge, this is a bottle you should consider — especially for pairing with steak. Rating: 91
This is a wildly awesome wine. The fruit flavor is focused and emanates from the core. The tannins are prominent but woven in. The natural acidity is bracing, letting your palate enjoy the taste of the wine — not the oak or the alcohol. Rating: 96
Earthy, deep, and well structured, this Cab smells like an autumn forest and dark, brambly fruits. The core of the fruit is concentrated beneath still-softening tannins. It’s drinking well now, but in a year or two, this wine will truly shine. Rating: 90
An elegant Cali Cab, this wine has great natural acidity lifting up the core of fruit as it’s framed by a prominent tannin structure. This wine can still age another five or more years, but right now, it’s singing with balance. Rating: 92
It’s $100 and worth every cent. This is a proper California Cabernet Sauvignon with smooth, dark fruit vibes and extremely well-woven tannins. The heft has fallen away, and the wine has softened just enough. This is a steak wine, but it’s so balanced you could just sip it on its own. Rating: 94
This is a classic American Cab. This wine has an excellent depth of fruit, with moderate natural acidity. It smells like blackberries with a whiff of cedar and a dollop of earth. The power and balance of this wine will allow it to age for the next decade, but it is drinking well now. Rating: 95
This is a great American Cab. It has all the deep aromas of vanilla and graphite (like a pencil), with tastes of dark-colored berries mashed together. The tannins are still a bit green, but they’re forming a nice frame for the wine. This is a great wine to splurge on. Rating: 90
Rich, powerful, and balanced, this wine defines the mountain Napa Cab. The sun at this high elevation has given this wine its powerful, dark, blackberry fruit. The rugged soil and cool air have given it its bracing acidity, amplifying the inherent peppery aroma that mingles so well with the fruit. It’s only 4 years old, but the tannins are so well woven that they are part of the fabric of the wine. The skill in this wine represents the legacy of Cabernet Sauvignon here. Rating: 95
Deep and dark with a rich fruity depth, this wine smells like blackberries and soil and would pair perfectly with a big steak. The acidity is so present, it balances the “bigness” of this wine almost perfectly. Rating: 90