As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to work with both Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz grapes, and I must say that they do have distinct differences. One notable difference is the size of the grapes or berries themselves. Shiraz grapes tend to be much larger in size compared to Cabernet Sauvignon.
This size difference actually has an impact on how the fruit is handled in the winery. When processing Shiraz grapes, their larger size means they contain more juice, resulting in a juicier wine. This can be advantageous for winemakers looking to create a fruit-forward and approachable style of wine. The larger berries also tend to have less tannins, giving Shiraz a smoother and more rounded mouthfeel.
On the other hand, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are smaller in size, which means they have less juice compared to Shiraz. This often results in a more concentrated and structured style of wine. The smaller berries also tend to have more tannins, giving Cabernet Sauvignon its characteristic grip and firmness on the palate. These tannins contribute to the wine's ability to age and develop complexity over time.
In terms of flavor profiles, Shiraz is known for its bold and rich flavors, often showcasing notes of dark fruits like blackberry and plum, along with spicy and peppery undertones. Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, is known for its blackcurrant and cassis flavors, often accompanied by herbal and earthy notes.
When it comes to food pairings, both wines can be versatile. Shiraz pairs well with grilled meats, hearty stews, and spicy dishes due to its bold flavors and higher alcohol content. Cabernet Sauvignon, with its firm tannins and structure, pairs well with red meats, aged cheeses, and dishes with rich sauces.
In my personal experiences, I have found that the size difference between Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes truly does make a difference in the final product. I have tasted Shiraz wines that are bursting with fruitiness and have a lush mouthfeel, while Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to be more structured and have a longer aging potential.
To sum it up, the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz lies in the size of the grapes, which affects the juiciness, tannin levels, and overall flavor profiles of the wines. Shiraz tends to be juicier with less tannins, while Cabernet Sauvignon is more structured and age-worthy. Both wines have their own unique characteristics and can be enjoyed in various food pairings.