An Overview on Syrah: Shiraz, Wine Pairings, Regions, & More

Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and primarily used to produce powerful red wines. Whether sold as Syrah or Shiraz, these wines enjoy great popularity.

Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world's 7th most grown grape.

It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay and most of the United States.

The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as the most grown dark-skinned variety. In Australia it was also commonly called Hermitage up to the late 1980s, but since that name is also a French Protected designation of origin, this naming practice caused a problem in some export markets and was dropped.

The name Shiraz for this grape variety is also commonly used in South Africa and Canada.

Syrah continues to be the main grape of the Northern Rhône and is associated with classic wines such as Hermitage, Cornas and Côte-Rôtie. In the Southern Rhône it is used as a blending grape in such wines as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas and Côtes du Rhône, where Grenache usually makes up the bulk of the blend.

Although its best incarnations will age for decades, less-extracted styles may be enjoyed young for their lively red and blueberry characters and smooth tannin structure.

Syrah has been widely used as a blending grape in the red wines of many countries due to its fleshy fruit mid-palate, balancing the weaknesses of other varieties and resulting in a "complete" wine.

From the 1970s and even more from the 1990s, Syrah has enjoyed increased popularity, and plantings of the variety has expanded significantly in both old and new locations. In the early 2000s, it broke into the top 10 of varieties planted worldwide for the first time.

Shiraz is known for its spicy blackberry, plum, and peppery flavors.

Often there are additional notes of licorice, bitter chocolate and mocha. Shiraz is even affected by growing temperature - warmer climates bring out the mellower flavors of plum, while cooler temperatures spice up the wine.

Shiraz can be made in a fruity style, which many "sweet" wine drinkers enjoy. It can also be made in a dry style.

If you would like to try a Syrah or Shiraz, here are our suggestions:

  • Cimicky Trumps Shiraz
  • Greg Norman Shiraz
  • BV Syrah
  • Two Hands Shiraz

All the above wines can be found at

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