The Best Red Wines for Beginners (Series): #5 Syrah & Shiraz


Hello friends, and wine lovers, AND
football fans! That’s right, Philadelphia! Super Bowl
champions! Welcome back to the latest video in our series about the best red
wines for beginners. In this installment we’re gonna take a trip to the dark side –
we’re gonna talk about that deep, dark red wine known as Syrah –
or is it Shiraz? Stay tuned to find out. There’s a bit of mystery about Syrah, for
several reasons: Frst of all, it’s not as prolific as say a Cabernet or Merlot;
it’s ranked at about the seventh most planted grape in the world at about
350,000 acres. Secondly it’s used in a lot of blends, so it doesn’t always get
top billing on the label. But the biggest part of the mystery could be the name,
Syrah. There’s a popular rumor that says Syrah came from the Persian Empire about 2,000 years ago, because the capital of Persia was called Shiraz, at the time. And
while that sounds like a pretty cool story, it’s not true! The Syrah grape
actually comes from the Rhone Valley in southern France and to this day,
that’s where it still rules. So what then, is Shiraz? It’s actually the same grape,
just pronounced slightly differently. When they brought this grape to
Australia in the 1830s they were using the Anglicized name, Scyras. Throw
in an Australian accent, and well you get SHIRAZ. So, same grape just slightly
different name that’s all. What does Syrah wine taste like?
As always it depends on where it’s grown, most often it’s described as having strong black
and purple fruit flavors, black raspberry, plums, blueberry, that sort of thing…
French Syrah tends to be a bit more soft and herbal,
some people even say that it has somewhat of a black pepper bite to it. In
Australia, Shiraz is huge, powerful and often woody, from lots of time in an oak
barrel… so if you like bold Reds with lots of spice, cedar and alcohol, then
this is your jam! Syrah also does something quite
interesting as it ages. Author of the Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil, describes Syrah as the “kind of guy who wears cowboy boots with a tuxedo.” I think what she
means by that is that the wine can be very elegant and refined but at the same
time it has these rustic and sort of animal qualities to it. Old Syrah and
Shiraz can start to smell and taste like pipe tobacco, leather and yes, even
barnyard. At first the term “barnyard” can seem a little off-putting, but trust me
if you grew up on, or around, a farm you know what I’m talking about. It’s
actually a beautiful thing. I kind of love that gamy, musky smell
in old Syrah! Where can you find good Syrah and Shiraz? Well as you know in
France they label their wines based on where the wine is made so you’re gonna
have to know something about the location in order to be able to find
good Syrah. For the most Syrah in the bottle, you’re going to look for
wines that come from the northern part of the Rhone Valley, in particular, Cote Rotie, Saint Joseph and Hermitage. The real challenge in trying to get these wines
is that they could be very expensive so be prepared to buck up! If you don’t mind
tasting your Syrah as part of a blend, then for a lot cheaper you can buy
a Cotes du Rhone. This is a pretty common wine made all over the Valley and these tend to have less Syrah in them, but they’re still a good entry point into the
world of Syrah. But your best bet is to look to the smaller, less traditional
producers of the Rhone Valley. In this case here I found a 100% Syrah that’s
actually labeled on the bottle for about $15. In Australia look to places like the
Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and the McClaren Vale regions. The great news is
that Aussie Shiraz is abundant, and that makes it pretty affordable. iIf you have
some discretionary cash and want to try something that’s a bit up there, the
sky’s the limit, as you can see here with this very famous Aussie Shiraz that I
found at my store. As with most wine grapes, Syrah and Shiraz are made all over the world now – places like Chile, California and even South Africa, are
fun examples to try and often, very affordable. Food pairings are pretty
straightforward: Syrah and Shiraz make bold herbal spicy wines, and they’re perfect with red meats, especially grilled and hearty stews and chili.
All right my friends, here we are again… I’m glad to be back in the swing of
things, and please do me a favor: If you like my videos, “like” them, offer me some comments below, and if you haven’t already, please subscribe to my channel –
that way you’ll get updates whenever I make a new video – don’t forget to check
out some of the other videos in this series about the best red and white wines
for beginners, and of course all the other material that’s here on the Wine
Living Channel. Take care of yourselves, and I’ll catch you on the next video. Cheers!!

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