Syrah is a wine that’s easy to love — even while being perhaps the most misunderstood of all wine varieties.
Here are 10 fascinating facts about this most fascinating wine…
1. Syrah is most commonly associated with the northern Rhone region of France, where it’s made into a powerful wine that evokes impressions of licorice, black plums, spice and black pepper. Some of the best renditions can age gracefully for 10 years or more.
2. In France’s Cote-Rotie appellation, Syrah typically is blended with a small amount of Viognier — yes, a white grape variety. This serves to enhance the blend’s aroma.
3. In the southern Rhone, Syrah is blended with Grenache and Mourvedre to create the delightful wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
4. In Australia, Syrah goes by the name of Shiraz… and has an entirely different personality. There, the climate and clones that are used produce wines that are more jammy in style, often leaning toward cinnamon, strawberry and blackberry in aroma and flavor. For the most part, these are not wines to lay down; they’re ready to drink when you bring them home.
5. Australian vintners also blend Syrah with Grenache and Mourvedre. These wines often are referred to simply as “GSM.”
6. Ever adventurous, some Aussies also blend Syrah with Cabernet Sauvignon.
7. Besides France and Australia, Syrah is grown with great success in California, Washington, South Africa, Chile and elsewhere.
8. There really is no “California style” of Syrah. Depending on where it’s grown and who makes it, it can range from bright and sassy to dark and brooding.
9. Among the food pairing partners for Syrah recommended by vintners are game birds, lamb and venison. Aussie Shiraz is ideal for barbecued meats.
10. Syrah should not be confused with Petite Sirah — an entirely different grape variety that is a cross between Syrah and Peloursin.