Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | Find The Difference

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The world of wine is as complex and intriguing as its flavors. It’s easy to drink a glass of wine, but entering a wine shop can be an overwhelming experience. 

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz

Moreover, despite being a wine lover, there are chances you will not be able to tell the difference between Cabernet vs. and that’s okay!

Therefore, it’s important to find the difference between the two to enjoy their flavors to the fullest. So, what’s the difference between Cabernet vs. Shiraz? While both are red wines, Shiraz is a more complex wine, and Cabernet is more flavorful.

The characteristics of both wines are so intriguing that you will enjoy reading about them even if you are not a hardcore wine drinker.

So, let’s take a look at the differences between Cabernet and Shiraz. This will help you better understand their unique qualities and make it easier for you to pair them with meals.

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | Difference Table

Basis Of DifferenceCabernetShiraz
Grape CharacteristicsA smaller grape with thick dark skin, generally sphericalA larger grape with a very dark color
Aged1-15 years5-25 years
MouthfeelFull-bodiedFull-bodied (heaviest red wine)
ColorDeep, dark, ruby red color that fades with ageA very deep, dark red color that does fade with age, but not to the point of becoming ruby
AromaPlum, blackberry, cassis, black cherries, green bell pepper, vanilla cloves, mushroom, leather, tobacco, wood (from wood barrel agingBlackberries, blueberries, boysenberries
FlavorPlum, blackberry, cassis, black cherries, vanilla, cloves, black pepperBlackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, vanilla, olives, pepper, licorice, chocolate, allspice, rosemary, bacon or cured meats, smoke, tobacco

What Is Cabernet?

Cabernet Shiraz Grape Characteristics A smaller grape with thick dark skin, generally spherical A larger grape with a very dark color Aged 1-15 years 5-25 years Mouthfeel Full-bodied Full-bodied (heaviest red wine) Color Deep, dark, ruby red color that fades with age A very deep, dark red color that does fade with age, but not to the point of becoming ruby Aroma Plum, blackberry, cassis, black cherries, green bell pepper, vanilla cloves, mushroom, leather, tobacco, wood (from wood barrel aging Blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries Flavor Plum, blackberry, cassis, black cherries, vanilla, cloves, black pepper Blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, vanilla, olives, pepper, licorice, chocolate, allspice, rosemary, bacon or cured meats, smoke, tobacco Acidity Medium Medium Tannin Medium Medium ABV 13-15.5% 13-15.5%

Cabernet, also known as Cabernet sauvignon Cab, Cab Sauv, is one of the most popular red wines around the globe. Although it was born in France, today, Cabernet is produced in every major winemaking region in the world. 

Amongst thousands of wines available in the market, cabernet sauvignon is known for its age and high alcohol content of 13.5–15.5% ABV.

Cabernet is famously known for the cross-breeding of a Cabernet Franc grape and a Sauvignon Blanc grape, resulting in blackish-blue grapes. These grapes have thick and durable skin. 

With their dark colors, these grapes produce a dark red color wine known as the most popular Cabernet Sauvignon.

The final flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon is highly dependent on the growing technique, soil, climate, and harvest period. 

What Is Shiraz?


Shiraz is another popular red wine which is also known as syrah. While this wine also has its roots in France, it is made worldwide today. If you are looking to get your hands on the best Shiraz, Australian vineyards are famous for the fantastic Shiraz they produce.

Shiraz mostly has 13–14% alcohol by volume (abv), but it can also have 14.5 – 15.5% ABV when made with grapes grown in a warmer climate.

Compared to the grapes used to make Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes used to make Shiraz are big and red-skinned.

Now that you have a little idea of where Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz come from let’s take a deeper look at what sets them apart.   

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | What’s The Difference?

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz

1. Color 

If you place glasses full of red wines kept in front of a novice, don’t be surprised to hear the statement, “it is all red to me.” But if you look closely, you can tell the color difference between Cabernet and Shiraz.

Cabernet Sauvignon has a deep ruby red color. Shiraz, on the other hand, is a deep purple. The color of both wines also fades with age. While Cabernet Sauvignon turns to light ruby, Shiraz also fades but not to the point of becoming ruby. 

Moreover, young wines can have an inky and opaque tone.

If you haven’t noticed this difference yet, try holding a glass against a plain white background to detect the differences.

2. Mouthfeel

If you are a regular wine drinker, you surely know what a wine mouthfeel means. For new wine lovers, the term mouthfeel of wine is used to describe the sensation of wine in the mouth.

The mouthfeel of a wine is influenced by components such as acidity, alcohol, tannins, and sugar.

Coming to the mouthfeel of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, both are full-bodied wines. However, between the two, Shiraz has the heaviest mouthfeel. 

3. Taste And Aroma 

One of the major differences between Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz is their taste and aroma. This is also the most complex subject to study, and it’s a hot topic of discussion amongst wine sommeliers.

Shiraz is known for its jammy aromas and offers blueberry and blackberry flavors. The flavors of this wine are complex. It also tastes like smoked meat. Think of beef, bacon, black pepper spice, cloves, rosemary, etc.

Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, has a dark fruit-like flavor. Think of plums, blackberries, and black cherries with vanilla, cassis, licorice, and black pepper notes.

Upon maturity, this wine turns into having a woodier flavor from the oak barrels it is stored in. Besides, it also leaves vanilla, cloves, mushrooms, or tobacco-like flavor. Some regions where Cabernet Sauvignon is produced also give this wine a prominent green bell pepper aroma.

While you will find a range of flavors in Cabernet Sauvignon that lean towards earthier and spicier notes as it ages, Shiraz tends to remain on the sweeter side.

While these are the basic descriptions of flavors for both wines, it should be noted that the flavors of wines are highly dependent on many factors like the soil in which the grapes are grown, temperature, sunlight, water, harvest time, etc. 

Most importantly, there is a significant difference in the flavor of a wine depending on its maturity. 

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are both dry red wines, Shiraz is notably sweeter than Cabernet Sauvignon.

4. Acidity Level

The acidity of wine also has a direct correlation with taste. It is one of the most important features of wine, which is necessary for a wine to taste dull or flat or dull.

The acidity of a wine is the puckering sensation left after taking a sip. This sensation varies from wine to wine.

Simply put, the acidity of wines makes wine refreshing and makes you crave another sip.

If we compare the acidity level of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the acidity levels of the two are said to be medium. It means both these wines have the right amount of freshness to them.

5. Aging

The aging of wine makes you decide when a bottle of wine should be purchased and how it should be further stored. As mentioned before, the age of wine has a direct impact on its flavor. But many other factors are changed in the process, like a wine’s texture, color, and price.

Typically, a Cabernet Sauvignon is aged 1-15 years, whereas Shiraz is aged from 5 – 25 years. 

6. Alcohol Content

While there is a significant difference between Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, they are also similar in many ways. 

Both wines are red and dry and originated in France. They both benefit from aging in oak barrels and have a fairly similar level of alcohol, roughly 13.5% to 15% on the high end. 

7. Food Pairings

Acidity in wine enables it to pair exceptionally well with food. Let’s find out what food goes well with which wine.

Pairing Shiraz with food isn’t rocket science. Basically, a wine with bold flavors does well with bold flavors on the plate!

To pair your Shiraz perfectly with your meal, you must understand the basics of their pairing. Shiraz wine can be subdivided into two types, warm climate Shiraz and cool climate Shiraz. You will find warm climate Shiraz in Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and Spain. Cool climate Shiraz is found outside of Australia.  

Warm climate Shiraz is the perfect match for sausages, kebabs, and hearty vegetables with a nice char from the grill and smoky barbecued meats.

Cool climate Shiraz makes an excellent pairing with cheese, neutral meat dishes, such as lamb without BBQ sauces, pepperoni pizza, and vegetarian dishes based on beans and lentils. You can also pair cold climate Shiraz with mushrooms, grilled vegetables, including aubergine, and peppers.

Shiraz also tastes great with desserts like tiramisu, rhubarb pie, currant fruit cake, and chocolate.

Cabernet is a sweetheart of the culinary world. That’s because its color and flavors complement hearty dishes very well. Cabernet Sauvignon, with its creamy and velvety mouthfeel, makes it a great pairing with meatballs, lamb, prime rib, filet mignon, stuffed mushrooms, Charcuterie, cheese pizzas, chicken, turkey, sandwiches, and Italian food. 

Some note-worthy fruits and veggies that go well with this wine are black cherries, tomatoes, and broccoli. Herbs like rosemary, lavender, and juniper berries also pair wonderfully with Cabernet.

You can safely call a Cabernet Sauvignon an all-rounder wine.

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz| Which One Is Healthier?

If you compare alcoholic beverages, red wine has been considered good for the heart in moderation. Wines are rich in antioxidants that are essential for good health. Apart from heart health, they are good for blood pressure and reduce cancer risk.

Therefore, since Cabernet and Shiraz are both red wines, they are great for health when taken in moderation. However, if you look at the nutritional value of the two, Shiraz is higher in calories than Cabernet and contains more sugar.

Keeping in mind this factor, Cabernet is considered to be healthier than Shiraz.

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | Which One Is Tastier?

Before choosing between Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, ask yourself if sweetness matters to you. This is the most significant factor in determining which wine you will find tastier. 

If sweetness is what you want in a wine, you will find Shiraz tastier than Cabernet.

You will enjoy Cabernet Sauvignon’s flavor notes if you want to expand your horizons and move away from the typical fruity and sweet wines.

However, both wines are great in taste and deserve to have a place at the dinner table. But don’t forget to pair them with your meal properly. 

Fortunately, neither of the wines will break your pocket.

Top Recipes With Cabernet

1. Pan-Roasted Veal Chops With Cabernet Sauce

Pan-Roasted Veal Chops With Cabernet Sauce

Cabernet wine is known for its complex flavors that pair well with meat. So, why stick to only drinking this delicious wine when you can make a sauce out of it?

This recipe uses Cabernet by reducing the wine and mixing it with beef stock. Once the sauce is prepared and the chops are cooked, it is poured over the roasted chops. The wine sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Check out the full recipe of pan-roasted veal chops with Cabernet sauce here.

2. Red Wine Chocolate Snack Cake

Red Wine Chocolate Snack Cake

This may be the first time you have heard of wine being used in baking, but the results are divine!

The red wine chocolate snack cake uses Cabernet in the cake batter that adds fruity notes and brightens this chocolate cake. Find out how to make this unique cake here.

3. Big Apple Sour

Big Apple Sour

A great way to enjoy wine is to turn it into a cocktail. So, try out big apple sour, which features Cabernet with apple brandy, cinnamon syrup, lemon juice, and bitters. Find out the full recipe for big apple sour here.

4. Carnivor Swizzle

Carnivor Swizzle

Enjoy the tropical flavors and aroma in a carnivore swizzle made with Cabernet, white rum, orgeat, ginger syrup, and bitters. This cocktail will leave you asking for more. Check out the full recipe of carnivor swizzle here.

5. Red Wine Hot Chocolate

Make the best of the winter season by making red wine hot chocolate which is a great spin on this popular winter drink. To make red wine hot chocolate, you need semisweet chocolate chips, Cabernet, milk, half-and-half, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. 

Follow all the steps here to make this delicious hot chocolate

Top Recipes With Shiraz

1. Braised Beef Shoulder In Shiraz

Red meat and Shiraz are a match made in heaven. Move over pairing your wine with food and add it to meat dishes to make a great meal. 

To make this recipe, you will need 1.5 liters of Shiraz to boil the beef and make it flavorful. This recipe also calls for aromatics like rosemary and celery that add to the dish’s flavor. Find the full recipe for braised beef shoulder in Shiraz to make a celebratory meal. 

2. Vegan Mushroom Bolognese

Vegan Mushroom Bolognese

Turn your regular Italian dinner into a fine-dining experience by making the vegan mushroom Bolognese recipe. This vegan recipe replaces ground meat with umami wild mushrooms infused with Shiraz’s delicious, rich, and complex flavors. 

After trying this recipe, you will definitely want to skip your regular Bolognese. Check out the full recipe for vegan mushroom bolognese here. 

3. Red Wine Teriyaki Steak Donburi

Red Wine Teriyaki Steak Donburi

A donburi is a rice bowl made with rice and a simple topping that makes an easy one-bowl meal. But this version is slightly fancy with, adding garlic chips and chopped wasabi stems.

To make this bowl full of mouthwatering flavors, you must make a sauce using Shiraz and toss it with steak. This unique dish is sure to earn you a lot of compliments. Find the full recipe here.

4. Wine Mary Shooters

Wine Mary Shooters

Wine Mary shooters are perfect for brunch or lazy afternoons. This drink is a twist on the bloody Mary cocktail with rich and deep flavors. Shiraz pairs extremely well with the acidity of tomatoes, and this drink does exactly that.

To make wine Mary shooters, you will need Shiraz, vodka, tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, sriracha, black pepper, and jalapeno salt for rimming the glass. Learn how to make wine mary shooters here.

5. Berry Herb Sangria

Berry Herb Sangria

Make the best use of Shiraz by making a berry herb sangria. This cocktail features mixed berry juice, simple syrup, rosemary, raspberry seltzer, blackberries, and Shiraz. Check out how to make berry herb sangria here.

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | Which One Is More Versatile?

As one of the most popular varieties in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is a versatile dry wine that is a reliable choice for every occasion. It’s great to serve on a formal occasion or to unwind at home.

Moreover, Cabernet pairs with a wide variety of foods, further proving the point. 

Can We Substitute Cabernet For Shiraz?

Wine substitution is a common topic that has much attention. The purpose of having so many wines to choose from stems from the fact that each wine brings a unique flavor and bouquet. 

However, if you don’t have a specific kind of wine, you can substitute it with wine from the same category. That is to say, if you are looking for a red wine substitute, you should only look out for the nearest match in the red wine category.

That is because all the factors contributing to the taste of red wine will come close to each other.

Since Cabernet and Shiraz are both dry and full-bodied red wines, they can be substituted for each other. However, do remember that you will experience a difference in the sweetness level as Shiraz contains more sugar than Cabernet. 

Cabernet Vs. Shiraz | Which One Is Better?

Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz wines are enriched with unique flavors with different structures, and choosing between them comes down to personal choice. Cabernet is often stronger in taste, whereas Shiraz has a smoother and fine texture. 

Therefore, calling one better than the other is not justified. It’s really a matter of choosing the right one for the occasion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet or Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, dry red wine.

What is Shiraz?

Shiraz is a full-bodied, dry red wine.

How does Shiraz taste?

Shiraz is a sweet-tasting wine, having jammy aromas and blueberry and blackberry flavors.

Is Shiraz a cheap wine?

Shiraz is a mid-priced wine that is both cheap and affordable.

How does Cabernet taste?

Cabernet has a dark fruit-like flavor and has earthier and spicier notes.

Is Cabernet an expensive wine?

Cabernet is found in both cheap and expensive versions depending on the quality of the wine.

What foods go well with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with red meats, poultry dishes, cheese, and even heartier vegetarian dishes.

What appetizer goes with Cabernet Sauvignon?

Fruit salads, mushroom tarts, cheese curds, and pretzels are appetizers that go exceptionally well with Cabernet Sauvignon.

What type of cheese goes with Cabernet Sauvignon?

With Cabernet’s complex flavors, aged cheeses with a complex and rich flavor make an excellent fit. You must try Cheddar and Gouda with Cabernet.

Does Cabernet Sauvignon go with Italian food?

Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice to pair with most Italian dishes. The acidity of tomatoes with Cabernet delivers a great taste.


Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are dry red wines with complex flavors that benefit greatly from aging. Both wines have about the same amount of alcohol and originate from the same country. 

Both wines are also pretty inexpensive. So, you can spend those dollars to buy a bottle of Shiraz or Cabernet for unwinding.

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