Syrah/Shiraz is a popular red wine known for its dark ruby color, full body and black fruit flavors. It requires a moderate to warm climate to ripen fully. High tannins and acidity are typical traits of this wine.
The climate affects its taste profile. The two main styles are Syrah from the “Old World” and Shiraz from the “New World”. When young is soft and fruity and becomes very complex and concentrated as it matures. You’ll find the finest bottles in the Rhône Valley in France.
Have you ever found yourself staring at many Syrah/Shiraz bottles wondering which one you would like best? Keep reading and you’ll find the answer and much more!
I’ve organized the content below in small sections to make it easy to read. I must confess I’m quite happy with the research and work done. As always wine tasting was my favorite part!😋
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Syrah/Shiraz Taste Profile
These are some of the most common aromas and flavors of Syrah/Shiraz.
Syrah/Shiraz Food Pairing
These are some food pairing suggestions for Syrah/Shiraz.
Serve and Store Syrah/Shiraz
Whilst for New World wine varietal labeling is used, e.g. Shiraz, for the French wines, under AOC rules , the name of the place is used, e.g. Hermitage.
To know which Syrah/Shiraz style you are about the drink, just look at the name on the label. Syrah will be the Old World style whilst Shiraz will be the New World style.
A little bit of Syrah/Shiraz history
How old and from where Syrah/Shiraz grape originated exactly is still a mystery. An ancient script from Pliny, dated AD 77, mentions a dark-skinned grape variety. The same description could though also fit for the Dureza grape . We though know that there’s a long documented history in the Rhone region in France. Today’s finest bottles are still from this area.
In the 1830s the grape arrived in Australia where it is now the most planted grape in the country. In early 2000, Syrah/Shiraz was estimated to be the world’s 7th most grown grape.
What does Syrah/Shiraz mean?
Yet another mystery in the Syrah/Shiraz saga. No one knows for sure. There are though two theories:
- It might be named after the Iranian city of Shiraz.
- It might be named after the Italian city of Syracuse, once a powerful city under the Greek domination in 400 BC.
Where does Syrah/Shiraz grow best?
Syrah/Shiraz gives its best in a moderate to cool climate, eg France: Rhône Valley. It is though as well cultivated in warm climates too, e.g. Australia.
When is the perfect event to drink Syrah/Shiraz?
If you have organized a BBQ or have been invited to one, Syrah/Shiraz is your best bet. It will complement perfectly with ribs, burgers, and any other braised or roasted meats.
What are the differences between Syrah vs Shiraz?
Syrah and Shiraz are two different names for the same grape that though produces different styles.
- Syrah is the name used in France and for the “Old World” wine style. It usually has higher acidity, higher tannins, herbaceous and earthy notes, moderate fruit components with tertiary smoke flavors.
- Shiraz is the name used in Australia and for the “New World” wine style. It usually is easier to drink with fewer tannins, higher in alcohol, intense black fruit aromas, with tertiary spice (black pepper) flavors.
Some curiosities about Syrah/Shiraz
- In France, the grapes used for the finest wines are still hand-picked. This is because they grow on very steep, stony slopes which give complex and peppery flavors. Examples are Côte Rotie, Hermitage and Northern Rhône.
- Hermitage is the wine that made Syrah famous in the world. It’s known for its excellence and it’s produced in France on a hill above Tain-l’Hermitage in the northern Rhône. “ça va sans dire”, i.e. it goes without saying, it’s one of the most expensive Syrah you can find.
- Have you ever heard about Petit Syrah? Just to confuse you a little more, this grape is not a little version of the Syrah. “Petit” means “small” in English, but it’s rather a descendant of the Syrah and Peloursin grape .
- Syrah/Shiraz is also used as blending grape and generally with Grenache grapes . Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and Gigondas are typical examples.
What’s Syrah/Shiraz's typical price range?
Price can vary considerably and these are purely indicative prices. Like Pinot Noir, expect a higher price for certain areas in France. The good news though is that you can find in any case good entry-level Syrah at $20-$40 and Shiraz at $10-$30 a bottle.
- $10-$20 Chile and South Africa.
- $10-$30 Australia.
- $20-$40 California.
- $20-$40 Rhône Valley, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint Joseph.
- $200-$800 Côte Rotie and Hermitage. As always, if you have some spare cash you can try a Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Ermitage ‘Cuvee Cathelin’ for $8’000+.