Wine Profile: Syrah
There is a little bit of mystery surrounding the origins of the Syrah grape but despite other stories linking it to Persia, it has recently been decided that it originated in France. Even without these new findings, the Rhône Valley in France is undoubtedly Syrah’s home. In fact, in the Northern Rhône, it is the only permitted red wine grape. Syrah is a big, lush, rustic grape that has been described by the famous British scholar George Saintsbury as the “manliest grape”. So, boys, I found your new favorite wine, you’re welcome.
JUST HOW MANY NAMES ARE THERE?
Syrah also goes by another name, Shiraz. Christened such in South Africa when the French Huguenots brought it into the country in the 17th century. While it is not entirely clear why the name changed, some link it back to Syrah’s initial origin story from Persia. Either way, the grape is still referred to as Shiraz in both South Africa and Australia. And Shiraz is some of these countries’ most beloved wine.
Since this is grape that already has two names, many people are easily tricked into believing it has yet another moniker, Petite Sirah. But don’t be confused, Syrah and Petite Sirah are not the same grape. Petite Sirah probably also originated in France. And while it is certainly possible that they were crossed at some point in time, there is no evidence that Syrah and Petite Sirah are related to each other.
BOLD AND ELEGANT?
Syrah is a lush, complex wine that has the fruit, body, and alcohol of a Cabernet Sauvignon with much softer tannins. It has flavors of leather, earth, wild blackberries, smoke, roasted meats, and pepper. Syrah from France is intensely flavored and showcases lots of the meaty, spicy flavors. Meanwhile, Shiraz from Australia has more of a rich fruit flavor. They also have a little bit of softer texture and even have some minty, eucalyptus notes.
A CARNIVORE’S DELIGHT
Luckily this big lush rustic grape is very food-friendly. But, be aware of the style of Syrah you are pairing with your food. Classic French style Syrahs are perfect with red meat, especially grilled red meat to play off the peppery spice. New world examples of Syrah pair nicely with both meat and fowl, pork especially is a great match with some of these more fruit-forward wines. Overall, Syrah is a big alcohol wine so you need food to match that, nothing tame or timid.
Syrah also pairs well with dishes that have a coarse texture as well as anything with pungent flavors like gamey meats or strong cheese. The French examples pair especially well with herbs. And of course, Syrah is a great match with the “manliest” of cooking styles, barbecue. Any and all types of grilled and smoked meats and vegetables will be complimented and highlighted by this noble grape.
Take our advice, pop a bottle and pick your favorite bold-flavored recipes and you will not be disappointed!
WANNA TRY FOR YOURSELF?