Erin Doman on October 9, 2015 0 Comments Shiraz and Syrah started out as the same wine made from the same grapes differentiated only by name. However, if you were to try the two today, you may notice a difference. In order to really understand these wines you need to understand the grape, where the grape can typically be grown, how the two names came about and their significant tasting notes. The Grape Syrah and Shiraz are dark-skinned grapes, almost black, that are used to produce primarily red wine. This grape sometimes goes by other names as well, including: Hermitage Antourenein noir Candive Balsamina Schiras Sirac Syra Syrac Serine Sereine Entournerein Hignin noir Marsanne noir Syrah/Shiraz can be used on its own, but because this is such a fleshy grape it is also popular to use in a blend. Because this type of grape has an extremely thick skin, it is common practice for experienced winemakers to cold soak the grapes for days, or sometimes weeks. This cold soaking, or extended maceration, helps increase the color and fruitiness of the wine while also reducing the tannin and herb-related flavors. According to a study in 2014, this grape variety was the 6th most popular in the world, claiming just over four percent of the market. Where it Can be Grown Syrah or Shiraz can be grown throughout the world. It does best in soils that are considered stony granite. This type of soil tends to warm quickly, and is able to hold the heat as well. It has a high level of acidity, which minimizes acid levels in the grapes. Some of the most popular regions for Syrah or Shiraz grapes to be grown are: Rhone Valley in France California American Victual Areas (AVAs) Hunter Valley in Australia McLaren Vale in southern Australia Barossa Valley in Australia Columbia Valley AVA in the state of Washington Walla Walla AVA in the state of Washington Crete, Greece Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand As we all know, where the grape is grown can significantly change the taste of the wine that is produced. Normally when the grape is grown in the Northern Hemisphere it is known as Syrah, but in the Southern Hemisphere it is more commonly called Shiraz. The name difference is only due to region, but the grape itself is exactly the same. The Names Why are there two different names for the same grape? One notable way they are differentiated is based on where the grape and the wine originated. In its country of origin, France, the grape is called Syrah. Throughout the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and most of the United States it is also called Syrah. Shiraz, as stated previously, is most commonly used in Australia. There are actually a few legends regarding the name. Some claim that the name “Shiraz” comes from the Australian accent morphing “Syrah” over time. Shiraz is also a very old city in Iran. Some claim that the Syrah grape truly originated there and was brought to the Rhone region of France. It is speculated that the grape is called Syrah in France because of the French influence over the word. Because many Australians believe that the grape comes from Iran, they choose to call it by the corresponding name instead, or so the legend suggests. Another less documented theory is that the Syrah grape was actually brought from Syracuse sometime after 280 AD. However, because this theory is less documented and lacks consistency with other findings, it is not largely believed. So to sum it up, the name of the grape is different probably just because of the difference of language. In French the word came out sounding more like “Syrah” and in English the name sounded more like “Shiraz”. Tasting Notes When the wine started out, the names were simply geographically-based and that was the only difference. However, lately the two wines have become different in the way they taste. This difference is not always consistent, but it is becoming more commonplace. Shiraz tends to be a rich, lush and fruit-forward wine while Syrah has more fruit restraint. The wine has different characteristics depending on what climate the grape was grown in as well: In General: high tannins, high acidity, blackberry, dark chocolate From Medium Climate: mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat, black pepper From Hot Climate: licorice, cloves After Aged: Leather, wet leaves, earth So not only does the way the wine is made affect the tasting notes, but so does the location that the grape was grown. The wine produced by the Shiraz and Syrah grape tends to be dark and full-bodied. Shiraz is usually more of a fruity, syrupy wine than Syrah. Shiraz can be paired with grilled meats, rich charcuterie, smoked meats and other earthy dishes. Syrah is one of the darkest, most full-bodied red wines. Its flavor tends to be really front heavy, which means it packs a flavor punch right away and then tapers off. Because Syrah is so full-bodied, it pairs well with bold foods such as blue cheese burgers, barbecue, roasted game, roasted vegetables or soft cheeses. Which Wine is Right for You? Picking a Syrah or Shiraz that is perfect for you may take some time, but it is possible. If you like a fruitier flavor, you will likely enjoy a Shiraz from Australia. If you get overwhelmed by jammy wines, you will probably like a Syrah from France more. However, you need to remember that the name on the bottle will not always tell you about the flavors. Naming a full-force fruity wine Shiraz and a less fruity wine Syrah is not always a consistently followed practice. This is why it is always important to do your research on your wine and the winery it comes from. Picking out the right wine for you is not always easy. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error. Finding your favorite Syrah or Shiraz wine is the same. If you are confident in your wine taste preference, you can try and pick the Shiraz or Syrah that will best fit your interests. If you don’t necessarily have a preference between forward-fruity or subtle-fruity wines, you can pick up one of each. The only real way to find a wine that you like is to taste as many as you can and go to a couple wine tastings. Both Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. The difference in flavor comes from the climate in which the grape is grown and how the winemaker makes the wine. You can learn a lot about a bottle of wine by just looking at what region it came from. If you want to learn more about making or drinking Shiraz or Syrah wine, make sure to continue doing research on the subject.