Everything You Need To Know About Syrah

by Lili Coustenoble
Syrah grapes

February 16th is International Syrah Day! The perfect opportunity to take a closer look at this world-famous grape variety.

The origins of Syrah 

The origins of this grape variety, emblematic of the Rhône Valley, have long remained a mystery. But after exploring numerous hypotheses about its origin, such as Sicily, Syria, the city of Shiraz in Iran or a Greek island called Syros, a recent study has finally revealed the truth. Syrah is said to be the result of a cross between two ancient varieties in Isère, France! So in fact, Syrah is a French grape variety.

Syrah grapes

Syrah in France…

Mainly present in the Rhône Valley, it is the basic variety of all the great wines of the region. It is found in particular in the Cornas appellation, made up of 100% Syrah, but it is also the flagship variety of the very famous wines of Crozes-Hermitage, Hermitage, Saint-Joseph, Châteauneuf-du-Pape or Côte-Rôtie. Outside this region, it is also widely grown in the Languedoc, Provence and the South West.

…and in the rest of the world

It is a well-known grape variety for the production of New World wines. It is particularly appreciated in Australia where it was imported in the 1830s and renamed Shiraz. It is now the most planted grape variety in the country. Argentina, South Africa, Chile, the United States and more recently New Zealand have also been seduced by this variety. In Europe, too, its growth has been meteoric, and it is found mainly in Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece!

Let’s taste it

That’s the story, now it’s time for the tasting! To the eye, Syrah already seduces us with its beautiful dark purple colour, with violet reflections. On the nose, three main aromas can be distinguished, which will develop in a more or less pronounced way depending on the terroir and climate: spices and pepper, ripe black fruits and floral aromas, particularly those of violets. On the palate, wines made from Syrah are characterised by their aromatic power, their silky tannins and their long finish. They are often wines with good ageing potential. Over the years, they can reveal notes of leather, musk or truffle.

Syrah wine

What should you eat with a glass of Syrah ?

Syrah food pairings

A rather young wine will go very well with pizza, pasta or barbecue food. On the other hand, for the more complex Syrahs that are already a few years old, we recommend lamb, braised red meat, rabbit, a pan-fried mushroom dish, or a dish that smells of spices such as a tajine.

Now that you know everything, all that’s left to do is to organise a tasting of different Syrah wines to find your favourite!

Translated by Chelsea Cummings from Lili Coustenoble’s original French article: Tout savoir sur la Syrah.

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