The title of this article is meant to highlight the fact that Australians pronounce Shiraz in a way that rhymes with jazz. Think of it as ShiRAZZ. South Africa uses this name as well, but I don’t think South Africans pronounce the word quite as colorfully.
Syrah and Shiraz – what is the difference? There are two key differences – the name and the region.
The Syrah grape is the cornerstone grape of the Rhone region of France. The Shiraz grape is the cornerstone grape of Australia.
The Syrah grape had been growing for centuries in France when, in 1831, a Scotsman named James Busby collected vine clippings and introduced the grape to Australia. He renamed the grape Shiraz, believing that the grape originated in the Iranian city of Shiraz and was later brought to France. (Recent DNA research done at UC Davis has debunked this theory.)
Whether you call it Syrah or Shiraz, this dark grape, and corresponding dark wine, is a big treat. My favorite description of the wine comes from Karen MacNeil’s The Wine Bible. She describes Syrah as “rustic and manly yet elegant.” Ooh baby!
Here are some key factoids about Syrah and Shiraz:
- Aromas and flavors – Be on the lookout for blackberry, plum, bell pepper, black pepper, clove, licorice, dark chocolate, espresso and smoked meat.
- Food pairings – This wine pairs beautifully with hearty foods such as grilled meats and vegetables, wild game, beef stew, meat pizza, and Indian, Mexican and other spicy foods.
- Serving temperature – The ideal serving temperature for Syrah and Shiraz is 64 degrees F (one of the warmest serving temperatures), which is a few degrees warmer than what you serve most other red wines.
Other differences between Syrah and Shiraz
There are a few other differences between Syrah and Shiraz, largely attributable to climate differences between France and Australia. This table highlights those differences.
|French Syrah||Australian Shiraz|
|Style||Big and powerful; dominated by spice and tannin; restrained fruit flavors||Soft and ripe; fruit forward; higher in alcohol; less obviously tannic|
|Ageability||Worthy of aging||Ready to drink immediately|
|Name usage||Most of the world uses this name||Some winemakers outside of Australia and South Africa use this name to indicate a different style of wine.|
I would love to hear your thoughts on Syrah and Shiraz. Please share them here.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
Betty Kaufman, WineShop At Home
I always enjoy your wine history lessons! I haven’t tried Syrah or Shiraz in a long while; your posts always motivate me to try something new!
Thanks Donna. I’d love to try some with you. I think it would be really fun to line up a few Syrahs and Shirazes to see if we can tell the difference.