Cabernet sauvignon is the king of red wine grapes, the most widely planted wine grape on earth. Compared to its rivals, it has unusually small berries and thick skins, resulting in more purple peels and less clear juice once its fruit is crushed for winemaking. This high proportion of solids to liquid results in high levels of color and flavor in the glass, but also contributes high levels of tannin, an antioxidant phenolic compound that acts as a natural preservative.

Tannin is the component that gives red wine its astringency, a tongue-drying sensation after swallowing that is unique to reds. Cabernet sauvignon’s high tannin levels have historically led vintners to blend it with other less-tannic grapes, most notably merlot. However, as the wine-drinking public craves darker, richer, and riper red wines and as advances in winemaking methodology make it possible to make tannic wines feel more velvety and less leathery in the mouth, we’re seeing a shift in blending trends. Where cabernet sauvignon wines were once “softened” by blending in merlot, many are now intensified by blending in other high-tannin grapes, as with this example from California. Here, 80% cabernet sauvignon is combined with 20% petite sirah, a grape whose tannin, color, and flavor are of equal intensity. The result is a lusciously-rich wine whose flavors conjure blue-black fruits like blueberries and blackberries, along with a plush tannic effect on the palate that feels as if the tongue is shrugging on a cashmere sweater.

Imagery Cabernet Sauvignon California

$16.99; 14.3% alcohol

PLCB Item #5217

Sale price through Jan. 31 – regularly $19.99

Also available at in New Jersey at:

Wine Warehouse in Voorhees - $13.98

Joe Canal’s in Marlton - $14.09