So that was my tribute to Doris Day! 🙂 Now I’ll be humming that tune the entire time I write this!
I wanted to talk a little bit about Syrah. It’s a powerful wine that is somewhat confusing to a lot of people. The main reason being that it is sold under a few different names in stores.
Syrah which is a grape that originates from the Rhone Valley in France is also sold under the name of “Shiraz”. The reason for the multi-name labels has a couple of reasons/myths behind it.
The Syrah grape is said to have originated in France’s northern Rhone region, and they were the originators of it’s wine. When other countries such as Australia and New Zealand started producing Syrah wine later in time, legend has it that they opted to change the name to “Shiraz” to differentiate themselves as new world wine makers of Syrah. This has been debated because the French and Persians have both claimed that they actually coined the alternative term first.
What makes the name Shiraz significant is that Shiraz is a city in Iran. Additional wine lore claims that the Syrah grape actually originated in Persia (Iran) first and the French only acquired it secondarily.
So who actually grew it first? Nobody knows for sure. But we DO know that we love to drink it. 😉
Nowadays the term Shiraz is simply an indicator of what area of the world produced that particular Syrah wine. But make no mistake that Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape – the Syrah grape.
In a nutshell:
Syrah = European or American produced.
An American Syrah will simply be labeled as “Syrah”. French labels will say Hermitage, Cote-Rotie or Saint Joseph as French wines are labeled by region and not grape. The Hermitage appellation has been the most famous of France’s Syrah wine producing areas, but Cote-Rotie is running very close!
Shiraz = Pretty much everywhere else.
Especially Australia, New Zealand, Chile and South Africa.
Shiraz is the most famous wine in Australia and the Syrah grape is the national grape. Penfolds being the absolute most celebrated brand down under. It’s hard to miss this infamous red and white label:
What does it taste like?
Syrah is known as a bold, spicy, powerful grape that is usually considered the “manliest” flavored grape because it can sometimes taste leathery or like smokey tobacco. It is a full bodied wine and pairs great with red meat and makes your taste buds scream “YOWZA!”
Just like with any other wine, different regions produce a slightly different tasting version of the same grape.
Big bold flavors of pepper, cassis, black fruit, vanilla, leather and smoke have often been used to describe this wine.
New World Versions (everywhere else including the U.S.):
A smoother, more fruit forward flavor. It still has the decadent spice and dark earthy characteristics, but usually has a softer, jammy like flavor that can even include a strawberry flair.
Syrah/Shiraz also ages well due to it’s high tannin content. So you will see a lot of current bottles for sale that will be new mixed in with those that are from as late as 1999. It usually stays good for 15 years after it’s bottled, but this is subject to the winery it came from. If you have a bottle that is several years old, I would do some research to see if it’s still within the “tastes awesome” period.
What’s the deal with Petite Syrah?
Petite Syrah (sometimes spelled Petite Sirah) is a California phenomenon. There are all kinds of speculation that Petite Syrah’s are biologically related to the grandfather grape of Syrah. Essentially the verdict is they may be related, but is actually a grape called Durif. Petite Syrah is usually similar in style to a Californian Syrah. It’s a great wine! Definitely one of my faves!
Looking for Ideas?
Looking for some ideas on highly scored Syrah/Shiraz? Check out the ratings section of Wine Enthusiast.
Because the Syrah grape is very forgiving of whatever climate it’s planted in (unlike Pinot Noir which is highly temperamental), I haven’t found a Syrah/Shiraz that I haven’t liked yet. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive wine with a large flavor punch to pair with your burgers or steak, this is usually a safe bet.
~ Cheers everyone!
P.S. Do you have a favorite Syrah or Shiraz? Let me know! I’m always looking for new and exciting wines. If you’re trying Syrah/Shiraz for the first time, come back and let me know what you tried and how you liked it!