Shiraz Wine Taste: What To Expect In Your Glass?

Curious about Shiraz wine taste? You’ve come to the right place. You’re about the learn the taste of this popular grape variety, where it is made, and some of the most popular food pairings. Note that Syrah and Shiraz are two names for the same wine grape. The word Syrah is commonly used in Europe while Australian wines use the word Shiraz.

Shiraz Wine Taste

Shiraz wine is popular with many wine lovers, especially Australian wines. When you pour a glass of wine from a Shiraz bottle (make sure you know how many glasses of wine in a bottle), here is what you can expect.

Flavor Profile

The Shiraz flavor profile typically leads with black fruit notes (e.g., blackberry), black pepper, and an overall fruity forward style. A Shiraz wine is a good pick if you like wines that emphasize a fruitier flavor, also known as a fruit-forward wine. Sometimes, the wine has spice notes (i.e. white pepper or black pepper spices) which experts call “peppery notes.” In terms of dry vs sweet, Shiraz wine is usually made in a dry wine style.

Secondary Earthy Flavors

In addition to fruit flavors, the wine also has flavors of olives, tobacco, truffles, and coffee. However, the fruit-forward nature of the wine means that these non-fruit flavors may be more challenging to detect.

In addition to the flavors, it is also important to keep alcohol content in mind. Since this wine is made worldwide, you can find it made in a variety of alcohol levels. A South Australian Shiraz will typically taste quite different from a wine made in the French style. That difference includes differences in alcohol levels.

Alcohol Content

Controlling your alcohol intake is an essential part of enjoying wine. Australian Shiraz wines tend to have a high alcohol content: 15%. That high alcohol by volume has prompted some people to wonder if Australian wines have too much alcohol (e.g., Good Food asked Is Australian red wine too alcoholic? in 2014). Of course, it would be misleading to describe all Australian viticulture in a single phrase. Many other wine producers in Australia take a different approach to their wines.

Shiraz Wine Taste: What About Tannin Content?

When discussing red wines, we have to cover tannin levels. Tannin is a naturally occurring substance that you can find in tea, nuts, and grapes. Tannin comes in different forms like softer tannins and strong tannins. If you find a red wine has a striking flavor intensity, it is likely that tannins are playing a role in that taste.

It is a key component in red that balances the fruity flavors commonly found in wines. As a result, some people avoid wines with significant tannin content. Generally speaking, the Shiraz wine taste has firm tannins. When the wine is made in warmer regions like South Australia, the tannins are usually smooth. If you dislike the harsh tannins often found in bold, full-bodied wines, a Shiraz is worth trying. You might also want to start with Shirah wine from a warm region. Shiraz made in cooler climate regions is less likely to have jammy aromas and strong dark fruit flavors.

As a wine taster, you might prefer the lowest tannin red wines. In that case, check out this short guide to the five lowest tannin red wines. Also, remember that white wine grape varieties usually have the lowest tannins. If you try those wines and don’t like even a small amount of tannin, then you might prefer a bottle of Pinot Grigio instead.

Food Pairings for Syrah Wine or Shiraz

Wine enthusiasts love to debate what to eat with delicious wine. In truth, it takes experimentation to find the perfect wine pairing for your specific taste. Try out the following ideas to get started in your food wine pairing experimentation.

  • Meat Dishes. You have plenty of choices here, including BBQ, grilled meats, hamburgers, and lamb. Also, blue cheese burgers work well with a wide range of Shirah wines.
  • Vegetarian Dishes. Mushrooms are a good pick.
  • Cheeses. Aged hard cheeses are your best bet, so pick up some Gouda, and you will be ready to enjoy your delicious wine. Blue cheese is a popular choice as well.
  • Spicy Dishes. Shiraz goes well with bold foods like spicy Asian dishes.

Now that you know your way around fantastic pairings, it is helpful to know which food pairings to avoid. 

Food Pairings To Avoid

When wine lovers meet to drink wine, they are specific food pairings to avoid. Generally speaking, avoid seafood dishes with Shiraz wine, including lobster and shrimp. Such seafood dishes typically go better with white wines. In addition, sour dishes are not a good pairing.

Serving Shiraz Wine

To fully enjoy the Shiraz wine taste, it is helpful to know the ideal temperature range for this wine. In general, it is best to serve this wine at 16-18 degrees (60-64 Fahrenheit). At that level, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the fruit component and layered flavors of the wine. If your wine bottle is too cold, let it warm up for a few minutes before serving it. Drinking excessively cold red wine means you’ll miss out on the intense flavors and savory notes commonly found in this type of wine.

Wine Regions For Syrah Wine and Shiraz Wine

Since the Shiraz or Syah wine grape is grown worldwide, there are many different wine regions to consider. According to Wine Searcher, the top three wine-producing countries are Australia (87% of production), South Africa (7%), and the USA (2%). On the other hand, if we look at Syrah, we will see France as the largest producer with 58% of global wine production.

Australia Wine Regions

Starting in the 19th century, the Syrah grape was first planted in Australia. Today, the leading wine regions for Shiraz wine include the Hunter Valley, Clare Valley, and Barossa Valley. You might be used to thinking of Australia as a warm climate for wine production. The country produces both cooler climate and warmer climate Shiraz.

According to Wine Selectors, an Australian wine website, warmer climate Shiraz is made in the following wine regions: Barossa Valley, Hunter Valley, Clare Valley, and Coonawarra. On the other hand, you can find cooler climate Shiraz made in Adelaide Hills, the Eden Valley, and Yarra Valley.

Generally speaking, Shiraz wine taste is different depending on climate. Warmer climates mean you will taste a riper fruit and have a full-bodied red wine experience. This is the Australian wine style that many people are used to drinking. In addition to those popular wines, you can also find Shiraz wine made in a cooler climate style with medium-bodied red wine quality.

Picking up a bottle of Penfolds Grange wine is a good way to get started with the best Shiraz wines. Penfolds offers both blended wines and classic wines made exclusively from Shiraz.  

France – Country of Origin For Shiraz

No guide to Shiraz wine taste would be complete without covering the delights of French wine. Shirah has Historically, the grape is thought to have a French origin. Today, grape production in France is substantial but the grape is usually called Syrah instead of Shiraz. Most wine lovers consider the Rhône Valley to set the standard for top-scoring wines made from this red grape.

When shopping for Shiraz or Syrah from France, there are a few phrases you should look for on the wine label:

  • Rhône Region Wines. Look for both Northern Rhône and Côtes Du Rhône. This type of French is so popular that other wine producers advertise Rhône-Style wines or use the phrase Rhône Blends. 
  • Specific French Appellation Of Note. An appellation is a relatively more minor geographic wine region. In French wines, keep an eye out for Crozes-Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, and Cornas.

In French wines, a specific geographic description is usually associated with a higher level of wine quality. If the bottle only lists a country of origin (i.e., “France”), then you probably have a lower quality of wine on your hands.

It is also important to note that French wine making has influenced other regions in a few ways. When you see an influential wine writer describe a wine as a Châteneuf-Du-Pape-Like Blend, they are telling you the wine is inspired by the French wine region. In addition, several wine regions have used French plantings (i.e. cuttings from vines) to get started.

Other Wine Producing Regions

While European wines are the focus of this website, these wines are also made in other regions. South African wines regions produce several types of wines. Comparing a bottle of Shiraz from hot climates like South Africa to wines from cooler regions is a fun way to experience how this fruity wine changes based on climate. In Italy, you can find great shiraz wine made in the Emilia-Romagna Region in the northern  part of the country.  

Shiraz wine is also made in less well known wine regions. For example, Algerian wines have made shiraz for a long time. 

Shiraz Wine Taste In Summary

The Shiraz wine taste is defined by dark fruit flavors and significant tannins. The wine grape is called Syrah in France and other European countries while it is called Shiraz in Australia and other locations outside of Europe. The wine pairs wonderfully with aged cheeses and meat dishes.

Post Updated: May 18, 2022

Shiraz Wine Taste: What To Expect In Your Glass?

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