Wine 101 – September 02, 2015: What’s The Difference Between Syrah vs. Shiraz?

This Week In Red Wine: What’s The Difference Between Syrah vs. Shiraz?

It can be a common occurrence amongst dinner parties where one guest might bring a nice bottle of Syrah and another will bring an equally nice bottle of Shiraz and both look and taste similar. Then somebody inevitably asks, “What’s the difference between Syrah vs. Shiraz?” Surprisingly, this is not an uncommon question even amongst many knowledgeable wine enthusiasts. So to help everyone out, we here at The Grape are going to try to clear the air for you. Let’s start with the origins of the Syrah/Shiraz grape.

 

Grape Varietal Origins

First, these two names refer to the same grape varietal, with the names Shiraz (Australia) and Syrah (France) referring to the part of the world the wine comes from. Despite the fact that the origins of this beautifully dark grape have been debated for decades, it’s been widely accepted that the grape is in fact indigenous to France’s Rhone Valley. While in contrast it was imported to Australia and is grown in these four states: New South Wales (N.S.W.), Victoria (VIC.), South Australia (S.A.), and Western Australia (W.A.). A little side note: These four states just so happen to be the best districts for producing some of Australia’s finest wines all together. Now, because we have the grapes origin down lets discuss its flavor characteristics.

 

Aromas & Flavors

When sampling this delicious full-bodied wine, you can expect to be greeted by a lush mixture of different berries, plum, spices, black pepper, liquorice, chocolate, vanilla, oak and other signature influences that are native to each region. For example, French Syrah has been described as having a more peppery essence, whereas Australian Shiraz takes on a sweeter form with a chocolaty aftereffect. Because both Syrah and Shiraz have such flavorful structures and high tannin levels, it makes Syrah and Shiraz wines perfect for complementing meaty dishes like: pork, lamb, beef and chicken.

 

Wine Regions Producing Syrah & Shiraz

Now, this is not to say that France and Australia are the only countries known for producing Syrah. The United States, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand and many other countries produce Syrah too. It all comes down to your preference on how the grape was manipulated, what ingredients were used, how the wine was fermented, weather conditions and more.

To better familiarize your pallet with this varieties different flavor characteristics, here is a list of affordable Syrah’s/Shiraz’s to try tasting:

Yellowtail Shiraz – $7.99

2012 Yalumba Galway Vintage Shiraz – $22.99

 

2011 Oxford Landing Shiraz – $8.99

2011 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz – $14.99

2011 Layer Cake South Australian Shiraz – $19.99

 

2010 Smoking Loon Syrah – $12.99

2010 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz – $14.99

2010 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Syrah – $16.99

2010 Shinas The Guilty Shiraz – $19.99

2010 Luca Syrah Vinage Altos de Mendoza – $28.99

2010 Elderton Estate Shiraz – $29.99

2010 Wind Gap ‘Sonoma Coast Syrah – $34.99

 

2009 Mourchon, Domaine de Cotes du Rhone Villages Seguret Family Reserve Syrah – $30.99

2009 Red Bicyclette Syrah – $9.99

2009 Clos du Bois Shiraz – $15.99

 

Now that wasn’t so difficult. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape (varietal) but refer to wines that come from specific wine regions of the world. In France and throughout Europe it is known as Syrah. While in Australia, parts of the United States and South Africa it is often pronounced Shiraz. If you enjoy big, bold wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, then you may really enjoy Syrah/Shiraz, which is also a full-bodied red wine with a firecracker combo of intense flavors and aromas that will knock your socks off and are most definitely worth trying. If you find one that doesn’t appeal to your taste buds try to discern what elements you found to be off-putting, and next time search for a bottle that does not include the ingredient(s) you found unfavorable. Do you have a favorite Syrah or Shiraz not listed above? Drop us a line at info@thegrape.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Santé!

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