Shiraz Wine - A Top Ten Grape

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Shiraz may yet rival Merlot and Pinot Noir in popularity around the world. This variety has plenty of fans in the world of wine. If you are looking for Shiraz wines in the United States, in France or in a few other countries, train your eye to search for Syrah, the name it’s known by in many locations.

This grape is the source for much of the Australian wine, as well as for Syrah/Shiraz types of wine made in other locations. Most wine history indicates that the Shiraz grape originated in France, though some industry watchers propose that the grape came from the Mediterranean/Middle East region. The jury may still be out on this topic.

Shiraz Style

The Shiraz grape is recognized for producing hearty, dark wines that have the taste of blackberries, plums or even chocolate. Nuances in Shiraz/Syrah wines depend on temperature, amount of sunshine and so on. Growing this grape in cooler climates generally produces a slightly spicier taste. Warm temperatures tend to give a mellow result.

Excellent as both a sweet wine and a dry variety, Shiraz is excellent as a complementary drink with red meats and with spicy menus.

Most experienced wine lovers like to serve Shiraz/Syrah at a slightly warmer temperature of 64 degrees. Other varieties have suggested serving temperatures of 61 degrees for example. Enjoy a good Shiraz right away or let a bottle stand for a year or two. This depends on the tannin levels, of course.

Favorite Flavor

Shiraz wines make the top ten in amount of acreage planted, with grapes used to make wine that stands on its own as a varietal and to make several popular blends. Shiraz/Syrah grapes owe their existence to a cross between two rather unknown grapes that were native to part of southern France a century ago (near the Rhone). The name may have some association with a town of the same name in Persia. Some historians believe the grape that is the true source of Shiraz was transported to France. Others rely on DNA studies that show the grape to be a cross between two French varieties.

We’ve already seen that Shiraz grapes can produce a full-flavored wine that brings the taste of blackberries and plums. The word “peppery” has been used to describe Shiraz, along with “chocolate” (but not too sweet) and “licorice.” Shiraz plants have large leaves and very dark-skinned fruit that generally produces high-tannin, rather acid wines. Wines that age properly take on an “earthy” character. Some Shiraz wines can be held for 10 years or longer under perfect conditions.

When considering the flavor of this grape, consider that there are some indications of a white Shiraz-like grape in ancient times. Shiraz grapes are sometimes used for their strength and deep-red color to balance other grape varieties. Shiraz gained in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s.

Buying Shiraz

Knowing at least some of the history and reputation of Shiraz/Syrah wine should help you when you decide to buy a bottle of this great wine. A significant number of people have found Shiraz to be pleasing enough that they have become regular fans, even joining a wine club that focuses on this variety.

Since this grape is so closely connected to Australia, it may be best to hook up with a company that specializes on wine from the southern hemisphere. Prices range widely, depending on the supplier and the year. You may want to start with a Bleasdale 2004 Shiraz that carries a price tag in the $17 range. A 2003 Black Pearl is slightly more expensive at $30. A 2002 or 2004 Shiraz from Bilton falls somewhere between these two at about $24.

Several other Shiraz labels fall in this general priced range as well, including a Perez Cruz 2006, a Radford Dale 2006 and Capcanes Vall del Calas 2007. A few major suppliers with an online presence now offer wine clubs for the Shiraz/Syrah fanatic.

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