Which Is The Better Wine: Zinfandel Vs Cabernet Sauvignon?

If you are an avid wine connoisseur, then you’ll no doubt have heard of the titans of red wine: Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Which Is The Better Wine Zinfandel Vs Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is a very dry white wine that is grown all over the world, whereas Zinfandel can be sweet or dry and is mainly grown in California.

When it comes to alcohol content, both rank pretty highly. One of them can reach upwards of 16% ABV. They are good for pairing with weightier dishes like prime rib, steak, and lasagna.

But what are the similarities between Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon? What are the differences between them? Which one is going to be the most suitable for your meal?

Well, we pit these two wines against each other to see which one comes out on top.

Zinfandel And Cabernet Sauvignon – How Are They The Same?

The first way in which these wines are the same is due to their popularity. They are manufactured all over the world. Zinfandel, for example, is extremely common in the United States Of America.

They are also very high in alcohol content. If you get a drier version of either Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, then this will push the alcohol levels into the higher teens.

The flavor profile of these wines is very similar too. Both are heavy wines with strong fruity notes such as red cherry, blackberry, and blackcurrant.

This is what makes them so great for pairing with heavy savory dishes like grilled steak and rich cheesy lasagna.

If you want a bold wine to serve with your meal, then you can’t really go wrong with either of these wines. They are both very distinctive too. Here are some of the ways in which Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon differ.

Zinfandel And Cabernet Sauvignon – How Are They Different?

Zinfandel is the slightly lighter of the two, coming with a milder body, although it still packs a strong flavor. It is also grown in California but has only become recently popular in the US, mainly because it was originally grown in Croatia.

Cabernet Sauvignon was originally manufactured in France and was only popular in places like the United States until it was exported there. It still maintains a healthy popularity in Europe.

Which Is Drier: Zinfandel Or Cabernet Sauvignon?

These are not officially regarded as sweet wines, although you can buy varieties that have been harvested later in the year, which makes them far less dry. Both wines are considered very dry, although the sweeter versions come with less alcohol.

However, in general, Cabernet Sauvignon is a little drier than Zinfandel. This means it is better paired with heavier dishes like pork, beef, and chicken.

Which Has More Alcohol: Zinfandel Or Cabernet Sauvignon?

Zinfandel is a California wine, which tends to have more alcohol in them than New World wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon generally does not go over 15% ABV, whereas Zinfandel can get as high as 16%.

However, the average Zinfandel is anywhere between 13.5% and 16%, with Cabernet Sauvignon falling somewhere between 12.5% and 13.5%. So, it is possible to get a Cabernet Sauvignon that is stronger than a Zinfandel.

Which Wine Will Be The Best For Your Meal: Zinfandel Or Cabernet Sauvignon?

This all depends on what meal you are having. Zinfandel has a higher alcohol content, which is great for simply drinking, although it will be harder to pair with tomato dishes or dishes that contain hot sauce such as shrimp cocktails.

This is also true of Cabernet, which has a lot of tannins, which results in tomato ingredients in dishes tasting very metallic. Cabernet also has herbal textures such as tobacco and blackcurrant, which might not be suitable for milder dishes.

However, if you are more interested in the tasting aspect of wine, then Cabernet Sauvignon has a lot more interesting and complex flavors.

Also, Cabernet Sauvignon has a slightly more appealing history, coming from France, which is generally regarded as the birthplace of wine.

Zinfandel has a little more pepper in it, which is great for pairing with barbecued meats. If you are drinking wine in warmer climates, then Zinfandel is probably better. This is because it has fewer tannins and brighter acidity.

Zinfandel Vs Cabernet Sauvignon – The Final Stats


Flavor profile: black and red fruits, raspberry, blackberry, plum, pepper, spices, and smoky notes.

Food pairings: grilled meats, stews, feta cheese.

Alcohol content: 13.5% – 16%

Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavor profile: black currant, spices, tobacco, blackberry, plum, espresso, spice, and earthy notes.

Food pairings: grilled steaks or ribs, roasted vegetables, blue cheese.

Alcohol content: 12.5% – 13.5%


We hope that our comparison of Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon has given you a better understanding of their respective properties and flavors, and helped you to decide which one is the more suitable for you.

Sarah Perez
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