The World of Wine
By Ceci Rodriguez
Syrah Or Shiraz
Syrah – the classic red grape of the Rhône Valley – has been reinvented by Australian winemakers with so much success that they have given birth to a style of wine that is all their own. They have even given it their own name, Shiraz.
Of all the well-known red grapes varieties, Cabernet might be the ubiquitous crowd pleaser; but Syrah is the variety that has succeeded in beguiling winemakers all over the world from the Rhône Valley – its spiritual home – to Australia, and lately in México, Chile, Argentina and California.
There are various theories about the origins of the grape. One is that it was brought to the Rhône from ancient Persia, in the saddlebags of returning crusaders. Another is that it is indigenous and has been used to make wine in the area since Roman times. Other investigations point to it originating in the city of Syracuse, Sicily. Of all its different Rhône guises, the most legendary is Hermitage, the expensive and long-lived wine admired by Thomas Jefferson.
The true origin does not matter; the important thing is that wines made of Syrah or Shiraz are rich and complex, both manifestations are great, and the difference between the styles is due to the weather where they are grown.
Australian Shiraz is one of those wines often described as “food wine.” The term is a euphemism for a wine that would taste much too overpowering on its own and needs to be tempered by the soothing effects of the food. Also the wines such as Syrah are not intended to be drunk on their own. As a recommendation: try food sufficiently rich, with bold flavors, and avoid anything that is too subtle.
Want to decide which is the one you prefer? Try all options you can find at lakeside, from Chile, Argentina, México, Australia, and France, and of course, you will have some beguiling tastings, as your senses will be very pleased. You can be sure that none of these choices will disappoint you.