Gamay vs Cabernet Franc

CharacteristicsGamayCabernet Franc
HueBright ruby to violetDeep ruby
AromasRed berries, banana, floralRed fruit, raspberry, currant,
bell pepper, tobacco
AcidMedium to highMedium plus to high
Alcohol (%)12-13%13%-15%
TanninLowMedium to medium plus
BodyLight to mediumMedium to full
IntensityMediumMedium to medium plus
Key Growing RegionsBeaujolais (France)Bordeaux, Loire Valley (France),
California, Australia, Chile
Classic PairingsPork, grilled sausages, charcuterieStew, hard cheeses, rich dishes
Price Range$10-$25+$15-$50+

Comparing Gamay vs Cabernet Franc is fun side-by-side. These are very different wines.

Cabernet Franc has more body and tannin than Gamay. Gamay is lighter. Cabernet Franc has green pepper, currant, and tobacco. Gamay has bright red fruit and purple flower. 

TL;DR: If you like either Gamay for its bright, friendly profile, you probably won’t enjoy Cabernet Franc. If you like the grippy, herbaceous quality of Cab Franc, Gamay probably isn’t going to be your favorite.

Cabernet Franc Basics: Herbal Red

what's cabernet franc taste like - wine infographic - cabernet franc vs gamay

Cabernet Franc, a parent grape of Cabernet Sauvignon, offers its own distinctive charm. Originating from the Loire Valley in France, Cabernet Franc is known for its medium body, vibrant acidity, and herbal complexity.

It showcases flavors of red fruits like raspberry and red currant, often accompanied by hints of bell pepper, tobacco, and violets. (Here’s a deep-dive into Cabernet Franc wines.)

Cabernet Franc has gained recognition beyond its French origins, with plantings found in regions such as California, Argentina, and Canada. It thrives in cooler climates and can produce elegant wines with a touch of Old World charm.

Fun Wine Fact: Cabernet Franc is the main grape variety used in the production of Chinon wines in the Loire Valley.

Gamay: Easy-drinking Red

what's gamay wine taste like infographic - gamay vs cabernet franc

From the Beaujolais region of France just south of Pinot Noir’s Burgundy, most everyday Gamay wines have a lively and fruit-forward flavor profile. It offers juicy red fruit flavors, including cherry and cranberry, with a subtle hint of sweetness. The wine’s moderate acidity adds a refreshing and vibrant quality to the overall taste. Gamay’s tannins are soft and gentle, contributing to its smooth and easy-drinking nature. Check out this full post on Gamay wine.

Fun Fact: Gamay’s earned a reputation as being the first wine of the new harvest season. It goes by the term: Beaujolais Nouveau. Here’s why Beaujolais Nouveau’s so famous.

Wine Comparison: Gamay vs Cabernet Franc

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Gamay and Cabernet Franc wines.

Gamay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Gamay is typically made as a dry table wine.
  • Alcohol: Gamay will have medium alcohol, similar to Cabernet Franc.
  • Acid: Gamay wines medium to medium plus acid, about the same as Cabernet Franc.
  • Body: Gamay is a lighter-bodied red wine, lighter than Cabernet Franc wines.
  • Tannin: Expect your Gamay to have low tannins, making it a friendly, approachable wine, much lower than Cabernet Franc.
  • Flavors: Gamay forefront ripe red fruit, like raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. Expect a distinctive floral note. Depending on the winemaking style, you may get cola, banana, or even bubblegum.

Cabernet Franc Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Cabernet Franc wines lean towards dryness, offering a range of dry to off-dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Cabernet Franc wines typically have a moderate alcohol content, similar to Gamay, ranging from around 13% to 14% ABV.
  • Body: Cabernet Franc is known for its medium body, providing a balanced and approachable drinking experience.
  • Tannins: Cabernet Franc usually has greener tannins, with a distinctive stemmy quality.
  • Acid: Cabernet Franc wines usually have medium plus to high acid.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Cabernet Franc showcases vibrant red fruit flavors, such as raspberry and red currant, with herbal nuances of bell pepper and tobacco.

Are Gamay and Cabernet Franc Similar?

Yes, Gamay and Cabernet Franc red wines are similar. They share red fruit, like cherry and raspberry, and medium alcohol. Depending on the style, they can both be medium-bodied. This will make the wines taste similar.

What Is the Difference Between Gamay and Cabernet Franc?

Gamay has a distinctive florality that Cabernet Franc doesn’t have. Cabernet Franc has spice and green notes, along with higher, chalky tannins.

Gamay vs Cabernet Franc Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

Cabernet Franc vs gamay - pizza

Gamay works well with dishes that need a little brightening up, like risotto, salads, and roasted white meats (e.g., turkey, pork loin, chicken, white beans).

Cabernet Franc’s strong tannins and robust body needs to be paired with protein- and fat-rich dishes. Grilled and roasted meats, vegetables and hearty stews are what you will want to have with Cabernet Franc.

Discover More:
Red Wine and Cheese Pairing: What You Need to Know

Both Gamay and Cabernet Franc are best enjoyed at a slightly cool temperature. Place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Which Is More Expensive, Gamay vs Cabernet Franc?

wine store shelf - Cabernet Franc vs gamay

It’s logical to think about cost when it comes to comparing Gamay and Cabernet Franc wines.

QualityPrice RangePrice Range
Gamay$12 – $25$25 – $40+
Cabernet Franc$15 – $25$30 – $50+

Producers craft Gamay at the extreme-value price band. You can find Gamay wine under $5 USD. Extreme-value Cabernet Franc doesn’t really exist (at least where I buy my cheap wines here in California). Moving up the quality ladder, these two wines are similarly priced.

Helpful Tip: Here’s how a bottle of wine gets priced. This post is a little nerdy, but it’s quite complicated and nuanced depending on where you are in the world and where you’re buying your wine.

Which Is Better, Gamay or Cabernet Franc?

If you prefer a more fruit-driven, uncomplicated wine with floral and candied notes, then Gamay is the better choice. If you like a fuller-bodied red wine with more tannins and distinctive herbal quality, Cabernet Franc is the better choice.

Final Thoughts – Gamay or Cabernet Franc?

Gamay and Cabernet Franc are fun wines to compare because they share fruit flavors, but not much else. Gamay’s the friendlier, easier-drinking wine. Cabernet Franc is the food wine you want on a cold winter night with stew.

These two wines are best compared side-by-side, more so than most. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Gamay and Cabernet Franc, invite a few friends over, and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping.

Thirsty for More?

Here’s a guide on how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out just how much wine tasting costs these days.

You can discover delicious wines at every price point. Explore this post on finding great red wines under $50.

What Grape Is Barolo?

What Grape Is Barolo?

Dolcetto vs Barbera: Comparison Chart

Dolcetto vs Barbera: Comparison Chart

Dolcetto Wine Guide

Dolcetto Wine Guide