Shiraz, a name taken from the city in Iran, is said to be a 7,000 year old wine recipe, later thought to be brought into southern France by a returning Crusader (wikipedia). You may see a Shiraz grape being used to mix with other grapes like, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier and many more.
You may also find Shiraz by another name, Syrah, which usually denotes an “Old World” style change in the wine. You may notice the name Syrah is more prominent in France, Chilie, Argentina and here in the United States while Shiraz is a name used in Canada, South Africa and largely in Australia. In the United States, wine laws state you can label your Shiraz as Syrah and vice-versa without issue, we mix and match as it suits us.
The idea of a “New World” and “Old World” style change based on the name is probably an often broken rule and the old style Syrah label may be what people consider the more “elegant sounding” name.
Australia’s most popular red grape (roughly 40% of all wine grapes) is the Shiraz variety, which was introduced to them in 1832 but really didn’t become popularized until much later. If you purchase a US Shiraz wine it may be labeled an “Australian style wine” to reflect the dominance of the grape’s name in Australia (wineintro).
Shiraz is known for its spicy blackberry, plum, and peppery flavors. Often there are additional notes of licorice, bitter chocolate and mocha. Shiraz is even affected by growing temperature – warmer climates bring out the mellower flavors of plum, while cooler temperatures spice up the wine (wineintro).
A Shiraz goes well with spicy foods or hearty foods (i.e. beef), served at a mildly warm 65F temperature (18.3 degrees Celsius). If you’re looking for some food recipe’s to pair with your warmer wine, perhaps a smothered filet mignon and a bottle of Syrah/Shiraz!
Often overlooked because of the dominance of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz is a wine to be taken seriously with its solid structured taste served at a warmer temperature.