There would be no International Cabernet Day were it not for Chardonnay.
What could one type of white wine possibly have to do with developing a special day for one type of red wine? More on that in a moment.
First, you need to know that today — Thursday, August 30 — is International Cabernet Day for 2018. It’s a day set aside for celebrating everything we love about Cabernet Sauvignon.
Here are five of those things:
- Cabernet Sauvignon is known as the “king of red wines” primarily because of its complexity — its aromas and flavors being a mix of the grape variety’s qualities and the use of oak barrels for aging the wine. Among the common descriptors for Cabernet are blackberry, plum, raisin, black currant, spice, pepper, vanilla, cedar, smoke, oak, tar, leather, earth, herbs, tobacco, coffee and chocolate. Complex? You bet.
- The two hubs of Cabernet Sauvignon are the Bordeaux appellation of France (in particular, the gravelly soils of the Left Bank), and California’s Napa Valley (where outstanding wines are made from both valley-floor and mountain-grown fruit).
- Cabernet Sauvignon shows up in places you may not expect, and sometimes its presence is not readily apparent. For example, in Italy, the so-called “Super Tuscan” wines are blends of indigenous grapes (primarily Sangiovese) and non-indigenous grapes (often Cabernet Sauvignon, and occasionally Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc).
- In 1996, DNA testing by the University of California at Davis revealed a previously unknown “secret” about Cabernet Sauvignon: It’s actually a natural crossing of two other varietals: Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. The crossing occurred during the 1600s, according to U.C. Davis.
- Because of its complexity, Cabernet often is consumed solo. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed with food. Among its sublime pairing partners are mushroom stroganoff, braised short ribs, a Kobe burger (or any burger with melting Gruyere), lamb chops, and Santa Maria-style tri-tip.
Here’s a recipe for an easy-to-prepare dish that make a wonderful Cabernet pairing partner…
ONION AND GRUYERE TARTS
* 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
* 10-inch pre-baked tart shell
* ½ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
* 1 heaping tablespoon smoked onions (from above), chopped
* 4 whole large eggs
* 1 cup milk
* 1 cup whipping cream
* Pinch of kosher salt
* Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
- Using a home-style smoker, place the onion slices on the smoker rack and smoke them for 2 hours.
- Wrap the smoked onions in aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the onion slices are tender.
- Chop the onions and refrigerate.
- When ready to prepare dish, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add the smoked onions.
- Spread the cheese evenly on the bottom of the tart shell, and pour the custard mix over the cheese.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and the tart filling has puffed up some.
Pour a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon to sip while the tarts are cooling. Then pour another glass to eat with the tart.
So, how did International Cabernet Day come to be? It was the creation of an accomplished marketing guy, Rick Bakas, who spent eight years helping to building the Nike brand before striking out on his own.
Bakas had created Chardonnay Day, primarily to assist winery clients who sold that variety.
“Naturally, we needed something on the Thursday before Labor Day,” he explained. “So Cabernet Day was born that same year.”
By the way, there’s no rule against extending International Cabernet Day and making a long weekend out of it.