Shake Up Your Next Menu – With Cabernet Franc

This week, we have invited Lauren Walsh, aka The Swirling Dervish to write a #Food4CabFranc guest blog for us. Lauren has a passion for wine, its stories, the connections between nature and humans but above all a very keen sense of pairing good food with great wines. Lauren is a qualified Certified Specialist of Wine, a wine educator and explorer. We hope that you love her article and recipes – so let’s “Shake up your next menu with Cabernet Franc”!


<<One of the reasons I love Cabernet Franc so much is its affinity for food – all kinds of food! The wines offer an exquisite balance of fruit, acidity, and mild tannins that complement a wide variety of entrées, from freshwater fish to roasted pork or grilled beef. In the Loire Valley of France, local chefs love to feature the area’s bounty of seafood and wild game alongside one of the esteemed Cab Franc-based red wines from Chinon or Bourgueil. In Bordeaux, where Cab Franc often teams up with Merlot to produce the structured wines of the famed Right Bank, you’ll see it paired with scrumptious beef and lamb dishes. How can one grape make wines that so easily accommodate such different dishes?

Although Cab Franc shares many traits with its offspring Cabernet Sauvignon, one striking difference is that Cab Franc ripens faster. In relatively cooler climates this distinction is important because it renders Cab Franc less vulnerable to poor weather conditions (rain or frost) at harvest. Growers located in rainier, cooler regions can depend on their grapes getting to full phenolic maturity, resulting in well-balanced wine. Grapes grown in cooler conditions also tend to maintain a higher level of acidity, a quality that that is discernible in the finished wine. It’s that racy, almost citrusy tang that underlies the beautiful red and black fruit flavors. And it’s critical to successful menu pairings because it allows the partnership between wine and food to work; neither outshines the other. Both taste better because the flavors all balance together.

So there’s a bit of the science on why Cab Franc loves food. Blah, blah, blah! Let’s get to the good part: some menu pairing ideas and recipes. As a long-time lover of Cab Franc, I’ve tried it with just about every type of food out there. Short of a plate of raw oysters, I can’t think of any dish that would be specifically off-limits, but I have to say that pork is my favorite. Charcuterie platters, pork chops, roast pork – all simply wonderful with these wines! That said, chicken makes a splendid partner, as does a meatier fish, like grouper. You’re only as limited as your imagination. To get you thinking about which way to go, here are some recipes I’ve tried recently; give them a try. Bon appétit!>>

Stuffed Peppers

Roasted Stuffed Poblano Peppers 

Cabernet Franc matches well with dishes prepared with peppers, as there is an herbal element to the wine that complements the same green notes in the dish.  The wine also has lovely fruit and enough structure to complement the dish without overwhelming it.


Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Vegetables

Roast meat and Cabernet Franc are excellent meal partners. Even with some spice and acidity, but not excessive richness in the dish, CabFranc has sufficient fruit and length of taste not to be overwhelmed by this lovely meal. The inclusion of fresh herbs in the preparation adds to the pleasure of the wine taste.



Grouper Puttanesca

Fresh Grouper in Puttanesca Sauce

The wine pairing is fairly untraditional here: I’ve selected a Cabernet Franc.  It has enough acidity to stand up to the tomato sauce, and the earthier elements of the sauce bring out similar notes in the wine (dill, olives).  And it’s a great complement to the meaty grouper, which is the star of the show!



For more of Lauren’s Swirling Dervish amazing recipes follow this link… The Swirling DervishHome Page. You can also follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram…

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