THE BEST GUIDE TO SYRAH & SHIRAZ | WINED UP

The chances are you’ve definitely heard of Shiraz and Syrah. However, people commonly don’t realise that these are the same grape, just under different names. We thought that we would put together a guide/fact-file on this grape, where it’s names come from and what to expect from it. This is our best guide to Shiraz/Syrah.

WHAT IS SHIRAZ/SYRAH?

Syrah/Shiraz is a small, thick skinned, black grape. It produces full bodied red wine with medium-high levels of tannin and nice levels of acidity. The names Shiraz and Syrah come from different regions.

WHERE IS SHIRAZ/SYRAH PLANTED?

The two main reputable countries for Syrah/Shiraz production are:

France: Cótes du Rhóne, Minervois, Cóte Rótie, Crozes-Hermitage, Cháteauneuf-du-Pape

Australia: Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale

However there are other notable countries that produce it in smaller quantities. These include:

USA

South Africa

Spain 

New Zealand

Image result for syrah vines
Syrah Grapes

WHERE IS IT CALLED SHIRAZ?

This grape is known as Shiraz predominantly in Australia. It’s not known exactly how Syrah became known as Shiraz but there are a few theories.

THEORY #1:

Some people believed that the origins of the Syrah grape were formed in the ancient Persian city (modern day Iran) of Shiraz. It was thought that cuttings of this grape were taken back to France, called Syrah and then when brought over to Australia it was called Shiraz as a tribute to the city’s authentic name. 

Although a romantic story, which we want to believe. It’s since been proved that Syrah is a grape indigenous to France. So it throws that theory out of the window.

THEORY #2

The second theory is slightly more plausible but not conclusive. The first cuttings of Syrah were introduced to Australia in the 1830’s by James Busby (who is often referred to as the father of Australian viticulture). The cuttings were labelled as Scyras and Ciras. It is thought that as the grapes were developed and cultivated over the next few decades, the misspelled labels, along with the Australian accent amalgamated the pronunciation into Shiraz.

It’s plausible but it isn’t conclusive. However it’s a good bit of trivia for you to wow your friends with!

WHERE IS IT CALLED SYRAH?

France

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WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHIRAZ AND SYRAH?

Genetically there aren’t any differences, however, the two names for the same grape often denote the style of production. Take for example a bottle from the USA labelled Shiraz; this normally indicates that the wine has been made more in line with the Australian style, and if it displays Syrah on the label then it indicates that it has been produced in the french style.

WHAT IS THE STYLE OF SHIRAZ?

Like any wine, styles will differ from region to region. Having said this, an Australian Shiraz does have general distinct styles that you can identify it by. Australian Shiraz grapes are generally grown in very hot climates, so the wine produced include flavours of dark fruits, sweet spices (liquorice, anise and cinnamon). The wine is often aged in oak barrels, which helps elevate savoury aromas and heighten elements of vanilla and smoke.

MUST TRY SHIRAZ:

This is a fantastic Shiraz. It has wonderfully complex aromas of plum, black cherry, bitter chocolate and sandalwood. The fruit flavours are reflected on the palate with well-structured and elegant tannins, which heightens complexity and makes for a well-rounded wine.

WHAT IS THE STYLE OF SYRAH?

Again, Syrah can change in style from region to region. It’s famously produce in the Rhone region of France, but yet there are many different appellations with their own terroirs. In general though, the style of Syrah is a little bit more lean than that of Shiraz. 

The aromas and flavours are slightly less powerful than that of the hot and dry regions of Barossa and Maclaren Vale in Australia. Depending on where you are in France, Syrah can be medium-full bodied, and the tannins are normally softer than their Australian counterparts. Moderate climate Syrahs normally express herbaceous aromas of bell pepper and are typically capable of extensive ageing. 

MUST TRY SYRAH:

This wine is a great GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend, typical of Southern Rhone. Subtle spices are accentuated by the vanilla hints from french oak ageing, while the notable tannins and rich alcohol content make this great for ageing. 

WHAT DOES SHIRAZ/SYRAH PAIR WITH?

Yes, all wines are different, however there are some universal food pairings that go well with both Syrah and Shiraz styles of this grape. 

Flame-Grilled Beef/Steak: The rich smoke from the BBQ flames will really stand up to the tannins, especially in young Australian Shiraz.

Cheddar Cheese: The slight spice these wines have helps cut through and compliment the sweet, yet saltiness of crystalised vintage cheddar.

Mellow Blue Cheese: Syrah and Shiraz both can stand up to the rich flavours of a young and slightly mellow blue cheese.

Grilled Lamb: Now something like Lamb Kleftico would go amazingly with a lighter Syrah from the Northern Rhone. The herbaceous aromas in the Syrah would really compliment the cinnamon spice in this dish

THANKS FOR READING OUR SYRAH AND SHIRAZ GUIDE!

We hope you enjoyed reading and got a bit more understanding on this lovely grape. Don’t forget to subscribe to our mailing list at the bottom of our homepage. Stay tuned for more blog posts!


Lightfoot Wines is an independent wine merchant est 1989. We aim to provide you with products and a level of service not seen in regular shops. We believe that wine should be enjoyed by everyone, feel free to ask us your wine related questions and we will provide you with an answer.All our products are available online, we can deliver anywhere in the UK and shipping is free on orders of £100 ad over!Visit us on FacebookInstagram & Twitter for regular updates and special offers.

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