Learn all about the Durif grape variety, some key tasting notes and what dishes to serve with this delicious red wine.
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What is Durif wine?
A grape variety you’ve probably never heard of, but likely tasted, Durif from France is better known as Petite Sirah in California, where it crops up in all kinds of blends. For a long time, it was thought to be Syrah. It’s a bold, flavour-packed bruiser, at home in hot climates like California or Australia, and now rarely seen in its native France.
Durif is a natural cross between Syrah and Peloursin, an obscure French variety. Despite its heritage, though, it’s now very rare at home in France. Durif was introduced to California in 1884 as Petite Sirah, where it became one of the backbones of the state’s wine industry, though it was often confused with Syrah. With its deep colour, it’s often used to darken blends in California. In recent years, it has been overshadowed by the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, but is again beginning to be appreciated as it is so suited to the state’s climate. As a late-ripening variety, it loves heat, but is also widely planted in Washington state and Mexico. In Australia, especially Victoria, it’s bottled as a varietal and blended with Shiraz (also known as Syrah) and you can find it in South Africa as well.
What does Durif wine taste like?
Durif makes big, warm-hearted wines, evoking rich fruit like plums, blueberries and cherries, often with chunky tannins. It takes very well to oak ageing, which softens its wild side and accentuates the spice. It’s not often aged for very long, but with its full body and tannin, better examples can age for 10-20 years. If the grapes are picked too late, it can be highly alcoholic and taste a bit like port.
What dishes go well with Durif wine?
Durif should be served at cool room temperature. With its big flavours and high alcohol, it’s usually best served with suitably hearty food, especially involving red meat. Durif loves spice, so think slow cooker pork shoulder, black bean & meat stew or penne all'arrabbiata. It can take a bit of sweetness, too, and goes well with ham baked in molasses and spicy Chinese-style aubergine dishes.
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