Shiraz is one of the most popular wines around in the UK. This is because it is an easy to drink wine that goes with lots of different types of food. In fact it is its spicy full bodied taste that makes it something that you can drink with hot Indian, Mexican or even Chinese food. This is because the Shiraz grapes that are used to produce the wine take a while to ripen making them full of sweetness before they go into wine production ensuring that the wines taste does not dominate the food, but at the same time the food does not take over the taste of the wine.
Shiraz is actually the second name for this grape the same grape is known as syrah in France.
Shiraz has been developed by Australia and really been transformed into a style which suits New World wine (there are still plenty of wines made in other countries using the grape but they are almost a different type of wine) In fact it is estimated that Shiraz is the fifth most planted red wine grape in the world so that is why it is a wine that we see a lot of on the supermarket shelves.
Australia has produced wine for a long time but it wasnt until the 1970s onwards that the wines produced there started to have an impact on the rest of the world. Most of the vineyards are in the South East of the country and the names of the districts that produce wine are now household names in the UK following their publicity through the wine that they manufacture. Possibly the most famous of all Australian Shiraz comes from the Barossa Valley. This area is in Southern Australia and is one of the oldest and best known regions. Other well known areas are Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Mudgee, the Goulburn Valley and Great Western in the Victoria area and the Coonewarra region in Southern Australia.
So what should you look for when you are looking for a good Shiraz? Firstly look at where the wine comes from and then look at the label of the bottle. Remember, Shiraz is a thick-skinned grape, which takes longer to ripen than other plants. That is why is does well in warmer climates. However, because of this, it is not always a great wine to drink young. It needs a bit of aging. Also think about how you are going to be drinking the wine. Shiraz is a strong, fruity wine and therefore needs to be drunk with flavoursome food or the wine will dominate the meal.
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Fiona Muller is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years. For more information on Shiraz, or just to look at the amazing array of Australian wines that are currently available, go to www.laithwaites.co.uk
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