Syrah Wines of the World

wine grapes Syrah (Shiraz)

Syrah wine jog your memory? If not, you’re probably not the only one. Syrah, known as Shiraz in Australia, is clearly distinguished from the Petite Sirah, a different variety primarily grown in California. Syrah is a dark red wine with a significant amount of antioxidants that are good for your health. It’s an excellent option for many different pairings, with tantalizingly complex flavor of fruits, oak and more. You’re not going to want to miss out on this robust, versatile, and well-traveled wine.

What does Syrah taste like?

Syrah’s taste varies from herbs and florals to red, black and dried fruits, earth flavors and oaks. Syrah is one of the darkest, most full-bodied red wines in the world. You’ll get a little bit of everything from bright, sweet notes of red plum and blueberry to acidic flavors of red cherry and boysenberry and even dark tones of sweet tobacco and bacon fat. Syrah’s thought-provoking profile creates a deep red wine suitable for pairing with a dizzying array of your favorite foods. Dark fruity flavors hit hard at the beginning followed by a peppery finish.

Taste

  • Dark fruits (blackberry, blueberry, boysenberry)
  • Olive
  • Pepper
  • Clove
  • Vanilla
  • Mint
  • Licorice
  • Chocolate
  • Spices
  • Smoke
  • Cured, fatty meats

Flavor and Balance

Syrah delivers medium tannins and acidity. It’s not particularly ageable, usually between 5-9 years, but you might run into something as old as 12-25 years. No matter what you choose, you’ll enjoy a robust profile that balances out complex aspects of fruits and oaks and adventurous finishes.

Profile

  • Medium tannins
  • Medium acidity
  • Full-bodied
  • 13.5-15% alcohol by volume (ABV)

Pairing it Right

Making the effort to find the perfect pairing will bolster your appreciation for Syrah and your favorite food. A carefully paired wine will bring out flavors of food otherwise hidden to the palate, and vice versa. When it comes to pairing Syrah wine you want to make sure that you’re using a bold food that can stand up to Syrah’s full-bodied flavor. Milder foods will be nullified by Syrah’s bossy profile.

syrah shiraz food pairing

source: Wikimedia Commons

What should I pair with Syrah?

When drinking Syrah, stay away from seafood, sour dishes, and delicate dishes. Pretty much anything else is fair game. Syrah is a great choice for cooking, too, such as a demi-glace reduction.

Sommelier pouring wine to the decanter in the wine cellar - wine decanters

How should I serve Syrah?

Regions of Syrah Wine

Syrah is grown all over the world, and enjoys variations in taste and profile unique to its specific growing region. Syrah is grown predominantly in the wine regions of France and Australia. Spain, Argentina, and South Africa are significant contributors to the over 460,000 acres in cultivation worldwide. The United States, Italy and Chile are also minor producers of Syrah, and produce their own exquisite versions of the wine.

Old and New World Syrah Wines

Syrahs are categorized as old and new world. Old world varieties originate primarily from Italy and France with new world varieties coming mostly from Australia, South America and the U.S. Both varieties contain the heart and soul of Syrah’s profile, but each differs significantly in subtler ways. An old-world Syrah packs more acidity and delivers more herbaceous and earthy flavors on the palate. New world versions are usually fruitier with stronger finishes of spice.

Did you know?

  • Syrah is believed to have come from Syracuse, a vital Greek trade city during 400 BC.
  • Syrah is often cultivated on steep hills in order to limit soil tilling. This practice produces fewer but more concentrated grapes.
  • Vintners cold-soak grapes for several days and even weeks to improve fruity flavors and reduce tannic harshness.

Conclusion

Syrah offers an attractive profile with a dizzying array of possible food pairings. Both new and old world variations promise a well of complex flavors to be explored with your favorite foods or on its own.