Unpolished Grape Series: Syrah/Shiraz


Syrah/Shiraz is a hearty, thick-skinned black grape variety known by “Syrah” in France and “Shiraz” in Australia. Today, it is planted primarily in moderate to warm climates and is produced as a single varietal wine and blending partner. Known for its medium-full body, medium tannins, and medium-high acidity, it can express an array of ripe black fruit and spicy flavors like black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, black pepper and licorice.

Syrah, France (Lighter & Leaner)

Syrah is a grape found in France’s Rhône Valley. On the steep slopes of the Northern Rhône, Syrah is the only black grape allowed for wine production. The finest expressions come from the villages of Côte Rôtie, Saint Joseph, Croze Hermitage and Cornas. The most renowned Syrah comes from a relatively small sloped area called Hermitage, where wines here are the fullest-bodied and arguably most age-worthy. In the Southern Rhône and South of France, Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvédre to complete the regional “GSM” blend. Developed and bottle-aged expressions display tertiary flavors of meat, leather and earth.

Shiraz, Australia (Heavier & Jammier)

Outside of France, Australia has the largest plantings of Shiraz. Due to its warmer climate, Australian Shiraz often displays even riper expressions of the grape, with pronounced black fruit, spice, licorice and even jammy characteristics. Shiraz can be found in Eastern Australia, Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley. Here the wine has added tastes of sweet spice, vanilla and chocolate from oak-aging, and develops flavors of meat and earth when aged in the bottle over time.

Around the World

This grape is grown across the world and produced as either a single variety or blend. Mimicking France and Australia, wine-makers usually adopt either the “Syrah” or “Shiraz” branding based on the final wine style they choose to embody. In California, the grape is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Zinfandel to produce styles that range from fruity and light, to ripe and full-bodied. Syrah/Shiraz is also grown in Spain, Chile, South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand.

Food Pairings

Syrah/Shiraz pairs well with an array savory and umami dishes including grilled vegetables, Gouda, and hard/aged cheeses. As for meats, it goes exceptionally well with grilled beef, lamb, roasted duck and burgers. When considering the taste nuances between Syrah vs Shiraz styles, one rule-of-thumb is to pair with cuisines and wines from the same region. Syrah pairs well with Cassoulet (a slow-cooked French casserole), pork, goose, and french-onion soup. Shiraz compliments local Australian meat dishes like venison and kangaroo.


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4 thoughts on “Unpolished Grape Series: Syrah/Shiraz

  1. I’m glad to learn the difference between these two wines. And since I prefer darker and bolder wines I will always choose Shiraz over Syrah

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