Shiraz & Syrah Wine

The Difference Between These Two Popular Reds

The first thing I want to clear up is the relationship between Shiraz and Syrah wine, since there are a lot of questions and misinformation about them. The answer is fairly simple:

  • The similarity between these two types of reds is that both are made from the same grape -- Syrah.
  • The difference is the winemaking technique used to created these two different red wines types.

syrah wine grapes
A small bunch of Syrah grapes ripening on the
vine in Dry Creek Valley in mid-October

Many regions specialize in just one or the other. For example, Napa Valley is one of the top regions for Syrah, but they do not produce much Shiraz. On the other side, Australia is a top producer of Shiraz. You can find some Syrah from Australian producers, but most use their grapes to produce Shiraz.

Syrah

For a long time, the origin of this red was misunderstood. After DNA testing, researchers determined that it is indigenous to the Rhone Valley Region in France. It is a cross between two little known vines: Durcza and Mondeuse Blanche.

The fame of this one took off in the Rhone region just a few years ago. In the northern region, most red wines are 100% Syrah. It is also grown in some of the other regions in France. You will frequently find the French versions blended with another popular grape there -- Grenache.

It grows well in warmer climates. You will find it in popular regions such as the wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma Wineries in California. They both have vineyards with the warm weather that most of these grapes love.

In addition, there is a second Syrah grape variety, with similar characteristics, but it grows better in cooler climates. Wineries in Russian River Valley and some in the higher elevations in other Sonoma County regions grow this second type of Syrah wine.

syrah label Recently, both Switzerland and Italy are also becoming known for the quality they produce. It is typically dark and dense.

You can find it as either a medium or full bodied. Some of the common flavors and aromas are raspberry, cherry and plum. You will also encounter hints of of pepper, herb and cocoa.

The grape is high in tannins. However, it has moderate alcohol and acidity. Because of the high amount of tannins, you will need to age the fuller bodied Syrahs for five to eight years.

The medium bodied Syrahs are okay to drink a two to five years after bottling. However, if you open it and the tannins are too high, you can also decant it to soften it out. Read on to learn a little about decanting.

Here are just a few recommendations:

Winery Location
Winery
Estimated Price
Napa Valley
Spring Mountain Vineyard
$55 - $125
Dry Creek Valley
Amista Winery
$30 - $35
Sonoma Valley
Landmark Vineyards
Steel Plow - $35
Sonoma Valley
Valley of the Moon
$20

Find some of these and other highly rated Syrah wines online.


Shiraz

Although it's from the same grape, Shiraz tastes quite a bit different. You will taste more of the fruit from the grapes vs the more traditional Syrah wine.

Shiraz is a lighter bodied wine than Syrah. You can drink it young and its the perfect everyday choice to pair with dinner. Australia is the main source of Shiraz where it is highly popular. It is also the most grown grape in the country. Top regions for this wine include McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and South Australia.

shiraz wine from australia

Some of my favorite producers from Australia include:

  • Angove
  • Clarendon Hills
  • Jim Barry
  • Langmeil
  • Penfolds
  • Tahbilk (formerly Chateau Tahbilk)
  • Two Hands
  • Yalumba

As the popularity of this red increases, several other countries have decided to start growing it too. New Zealand has a few regions growing Shiraz. South Africa is another popular place to pick up some of these.

One of the great things about it is that you can still find it at a great value. It is an easy one to grow and produce, which keeps the costs low for wineries and vineyards. This means you can find some great Shiraz wines under $20. Many of the highly rated ones also fall in this category. Find 90+ Shiraz wines under $20. icon


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