Syrah vs Shiraz

syrah vs shirazSyrah vs Shiraz

By Mark Adams

Mark is a professional winemaker, former winery owner, author and frequent speaker on wine.  He currently teaches wine classes throughout the United States.

You say Shiraz, I say Syrah? Same grape or not? What do you think about syrah vs shiraz?

If you said yes you are correct? What’s their prize Bob? You mean besides a set of steak knives? OK, no ginzus but how about the rest of the story.

In the early 1800’s when Napoleon was gallivanting through Europe, one of the battles he fought was in Egypt.

We all know to the victor go the spoils, so one of his spoils was a local wine called Shiraz.

He liked the wine so much that he took vines back to France to be planted but thought the name was too Arabic, so he changed the name to the more proper French sounding “Syrah”

Here’s where the syrah vs shiraz story takes a twist. Remember one of the things your mother told you as a child: What comes around, goes around. Well, she was right.

The ending to this little ditty is that that a few decades ago, our friends the Australians were studying wine techniques in France and thought that the syrah grapes had potential in their climate, so they took some vines back home

The vines flourished. But a funny thing happened.

They thought the name “Syrah” sounded too French so they changed the name back to the Arabic name Shiraz and the rest as they say is history.

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So in modern times, although the grape is usually called syrah in Europe and Shiraz everywhere else, it’s really the same grape.

The winemaker chooses to call it syrah or shiraz based on the how they choose to make the wine.

The Syrah you get from Europe will typically be a little drier.

The Shiraz from California or Australia is bold, spicy, dramatic, great wine for seasoned red meat. The spice is what really stands out here. To most people the distinctive flavor is pepper.

So here’s the wine skinny on Shiraz

Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape

Shiraz has a distinct pepper flavor

Great wine for foods like steak au poive or in English – pepper steak

This is a really distinct wine that people either love or hate. This wine is the spicy hot wings of the wine world! There is such a fanatical following for this wine that once you try it you may never go back to other wines!

So enjoy the great debate!  syrah vs shiraz!

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