Grape varieties: Syrah or Shiraz


Worldwide, there are over 500 grape varieties of which wine is produced from. Grape varieties and their own distinctive properties are the most important flavour characteristics of which you can recognise wine. The aromas and flavours of different grape varieties forms a wine to what it is. You could be charmed by a wine and characteristics of a grape variety or quiver because it doesn’t suit your pallet.

We will describe numerous grape varieties as a guide line for you. Whenever you’re in a supermarket and indecisive about what kind of wine to purchase, think of this guide line and let it help you in the decision making process.

Syrah or Shiraz

Syrah or Shiraz is one of the most loved wines in the world. But did you know Shiraz and Syrah are to the utmost extent the same wine? Well, there are some differences, but they’re made from the same type of blue skinned grape which makes the Syrah or Shiraz one of the darkest full-bodied wines there is. However, based on the climate in which the grape is grown you can find very different characteristics in the wine. By taking a look at the wine’s label you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Syrah finds her origin in the Rhône area of France. It’s a darker wine than Cabernet Sauvignon and has a rich, dark fruity flavour. When you drink a glass of Syrah you’ll taste pepper, blackberries or sometimes even smoked meat. As you might know French winemakers always label their wines after a region instead of the grape, so the well-known wines like Côte Rôtie and Hermitage are mostly Syrah.

If the wine label says the wine comes from Australia, it will be called Shiraz. These wines are usually a bit more fruit-forward and peppery. Other wines, named Shiraz, will mostly we as fruity and peppery as those coming from Australia.

Syrah or Shiraz grapes are rather spicy in taste. To grow they need a lot of sun and thrive best in a warm and dry climate, like in Australia. The grape ripens easily in a relative short period of time. As it’s a powerful wine, it is often combined with a less powerful wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Grenache to create an even better wine. Sometimes Syrah wine is also blended with Mourvèdre to obtain a classic Côtes du Rhône blend.

Syrah wines contain a high level of tannins due to the thick skin. It’s a great benefit, as this creates lots of antioxidants. The French varieties of Syrah are made in a cooler climate and tend to be more spicy in taste, with aromas such as pepper and sweet tobacco. Shiraz coming from warmer climates like Australia tend to be more fruity. You’ll find aromas like black currants and blackberries.

The key when choosing a Syrah or Shiraz is knowing what characteristics you like in a wine. If you like fruit-forward, choose Shiraz but if you like earthy, go with Syrah.<