Cahors pairs best with Cassoulet, duck confit, braised rabbit, sausage, grilled venison and lamb chops. Originating from Cahors, France, Cahors is a full-bodied Malbec that is sometimes blended with Merlot and/or Tannat. It’s the Malbec grape that gives Cahors its inky dark colour.
Featuring lots of tannin and medium acidity, Cahors is coarse when young. Given some age (at least five years), Cahors features velvety flavours of plum, blackberry, cherry, raisin, dried herbs, smoke, tobacco and chocolate. Loud and brash Cahors that requires serious aging will run you $25 or more.
Cahors may also be made in a fruitier and more approachable style that is ready to drink. Lighter types of Cahors will be priced much lower than the loud, bold and bossier style I have discussed above. Expect to pay $25 or less for the lighter style.
Cahors is not a popular red wine, and it does not have a large production run, when compared to Burgundy, Bordeaux or Cotes du Rhone. Despite being rare, it is easy enough to hunt down in North America, but the window of opportunity to purchase a bottle might be limited.
Cahors is considered a ‘holy grail’ of wine pairings with Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a slowly simmered meat and white bean stew where you might find duck, goose, pork sausage and mutton as the meat. Rich, savoury and filling, Cassoulet is complemented by the earthy notes of Cahors which include leather, licorice, smoke and dried herbs. Silky flavours of plum, raspberry and black cherry found in the wine provide an amazing contrast from the dense meaty and bean flavours of the Cassoulet.
Meanwhile, your glass of Cahors is improved as the fatty meats in the Cassoulet soften the tannin in the wine. When protein and fat combine with the tannin in the wine, the tannin is smoothed out, making the wine less astringent. Thus, you can taste all the delicious fruit flavours of the Cahors, along with the complex notes.
Cahors & Duck Confit Pairing
Duck confit is a meaty mixture of fat and salt, making it incredibly flavourful. The duck is first cured with a mix of salt and seasoning. Then the meat is slow cooked in its own fat.
Cahors pairs well with Duck Confit as the wine is bold enough to hold up to the Duck flavours without drowning them out. Thus, with each sip of wine you’ll get the refreshing flavours of plum and blackberries, which contrast the tender but dense flavours of the Duck Confit.
Furthermore, the high tannin in Cahors will improve the taste of the duck confit, as tannin breaks down protein molecules. As the tannin and protein combine, the tannin is softened making the wine less astringent, and the proteins of the food become more savoury and delicious.
Sausage & Cahors Pairing
Sausage is mostly just meat and fat, which is just what the doctor ordered when you’ve got a glass of Cahors nearby. The spices and seasonings used in in any type of sausage are complemented by the dried herb and spice notes of Cahors.
I love the smokiness of Cahors, and I find it delicious with grilled sausages on a lightly toasted bun. You can put a hold on any ketchup, as the fruity notes of Cahors provide just enough perceived sweetness with the notes of black cherry and raspberry to keep you refreshed.
Ribeye Steak and Cahors Pairing
Ribeye Steak is juicy, fat, and flavourful, requiring a red wine just as bold. Cahors makes for an excellent wine pairing with Ribeye Steak as it is full-bodied, loud and packs a lot of tannin.
The tannin found in Cahors denatures protein molecules as the two combine, making the meat more flavourful. Meanwhile, the fat and meat soften the harsh tannin found in Cahors, making it more approachable, fruity, and velvety.
I like some grill marks on my steak, and the chocolate, oak, and smoke flavours found in Cahors complement these flavours, creating an incredible dining experience.