Can a wine be called Cabernet Sauvignon if it contains other grapes?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can a wine be called Cabernet Sauvignon if it contains other grapes?

—Richard, Aiken, S.C.

Dear Richard,

That depends on where the wine is made, but every region has laws that dictate how much of a specific grape a wine must contain for the wine to be labeled as that grape. In the United States, a wine labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon must be made from at least 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. In Australia and the European Union, that minimum is 85 percent.

Some winemakers take advantage of this flexibility to help maintain a house style, offset vintage variation or augment structure, color or aromatics. Other winemakers like to make wines that are 100 percent expressions of a single grape. If you don’t see a grape listed on a label of a wine made in a New World region, that usually means the wine is a blend of grapes; in the Old World, appellation names are more prominently used to indicate the style and composition of the blend, and you’ll have to do a little more research to determine which grapes are included.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny Labeling Regulations Red Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

More In Dr. Vinny

Is it OK for a guest to take back a bottle of wine they brought to a dinner party if the host didn't open it?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers etiquette advice for bringing wine to a dinner …

Jun 14, 2021

How do wineries pick the glass color for their wine bottles?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny why some wine bottles are tinted green or amber, while …

Jun 7, 2021

When and how does "palate fatigue" kick in at a wine tasting?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "palate fatigue," and what happens to …

May 31, 2021

Does appellation-specific wine have to be labeled with a vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny gets an assist from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade …

May 24, 2021

Do vacuum pumps work for saving leftover wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why not all wine-preservation methods are equal.

May 17, 2021

Short-term, is it OK to store wine at room temperature?

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, offers tips on how to keep wine at its …

May 10, 2021