Understanding The World Of Shiraz

By: Louise Truswell

If you like your wines big, bold and fruity then Shiraz is definitely for you. The most widely planted grape in Australia, Shiraz is a favourite of many a wine drinker and is a great match for a variety of foods.

Shiraz grapes, with their thick dark skins, are incredibly robust and produce a very rich red wine with deep blackberry fruit. The exact taste will vary from climate to climate but typically Shiraz from hotter regions will have spicy, leathery tones, while those from cooler climates, might have a more peppery edge.

Due to all the complex structures present in the wine, Shiraz makes a great food wine. Fuller versions, particularly those from Australia, go well with red meat, while softer versions, perhaps from the Old World, can taste a treat with cold meats or cheese.

Many wine drinkers don’t realise that Shiraz and Syrah are essentially the same grape. Having said that, there are some marked differences between the two. Shiraz, as it is known in the Southern hemisphere, is generally said to be fuller and spicier, while its Syrah twin, in the Northern hemisphere, has a slightly softer edge. But, just to confuse things, Shiraz is now sometimes being labelled as Syrah in the New World in an effort to give the impression of a more elegant wine.

Shiraz comes in all shapes and sizes, so whether you want a reasonably cheap bottle for a mid week tipple or fancy treating yourself with a premium bottle, there’s something out there for you. The Rhône, particularly around Côte Rôtie, Hermitage and Châteauneuf du Pape, produces some of the most expensive Syrahs in the world, while some of the winemaking regions in Chile and South Africa produce some Shiraz alternatives at a fraction of the price. Shiraz is big business for Australian winemakers who have become masters at producing wines at around the £5 mark, yet they also produce plenty a bottle at the more exclusive end of the scale.

If you fancy a twist on an old favourite, try a sparkling Shiraz. You might not come across it very often but it can be the perfect tipple for an afternoon bbq. If served chilled, it promises to be a cool and refreshing wine, yet one intense enough to stand up to all those big bold bbq flavours.

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Louise Truswell works in and writes about the wine industry. Visit Virgin Wines to know more about Shiraz wine. To find out more and to choose from a selection of bottles of Shiraz, visit virginwines.co.uk/wine-zone/shiraz

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