Hey there! So today we’re going to discuss the difference between Shiraz and Syrah wine. I’m assuming you’ve heard of Shiraz- many a journey into red wine has begun with Yellowtail Shiraz. And I get it- it’s dependable, not overly bold but intense enough you feel like you’re drinking a “real” red wine, drinkable once it’s been open for a while. Now, have you heard of Syrah? The name’s kind of similar, the color’s pretty close, but obviously it’s a totally different wine, right?

Wrong.

Shiraz and Syrah are genetically the same grape. The grape (and the wine made from it) is called Shiraz when it’s from Australia, while Syrah is the word used when the grapes and wine are from France, in particular the Rhone region. Syrah from Hermitage is one of the most highly prized, and also happens to be where it rose to prominence in France, when a winemaker decided to make a wine solely from Syrah, instead of blending it like everyone else was doing. The grape is indigenous to France, although many people think it came from Persia (some of the oldest wines were made there) because the capital of the Fars Province in Iran is Shiraz. This is purely a coincidence. A pioneering viticulturalist decided to try growing the grapes in Australia in the 1800s, not realizing this was going to become one Australia’s most famous grapes. Shiraz from Australia is generally less expensive than Syrah from France even at similar quality.

Over time, wines made from this grape in France and Australia began to take on some different characteristics, although there are no requirements for the wines to have particular attributes so this can vary. Syrah/shiraz grapes make a very dark, almost opaque red wine. It is very heavy with tannins, which make your mouth feel dry. It is a good wine to pair with food, with flavors of berries, pepper, tobacco, and smoke.

So next time you’re looking for a bold, smoky, wine to have with your barbecue, go for either a Shiraz or a Syrah. Or if you really want to have some fun, try them side by side and see if you can tell the difference.

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