Discover more about this incredibly popular wine grape variety and the best dishes to enhance the flavours of this red wine.

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What is Syrah wine?

Until the late-20th century, Syrah was a fairly obscure grape variety rarely seen outside its native Rhône valley in France, and Australia where it is known as Shiraz. But, since the 1980s, its popularity has soared and it is now planted all over the world. Outside of its two heartlands, Syrah is particularly strong in Chile, South Africa and Argentina.

It was at one time thought that Syrah was of Persian origin; it’s also known as Shiraz, a town in Iran, but it’s probably native to the Rhône valley in France. Outside France, wines made from this grape tend to be labelled Syrah if they’re aiming for a lighter French style, or Shiraz for a burlier Australian style. The French style is in ascendance at the moment. Syrah is a great solo performer, but it’s also seen in blends with Grenache, Mourvèdre and Cabernet Sauvignon, or blended with a small percentage of Viognier, a white grape. It is the most-planted grape in Australia, but Syrah thrives wherever it’s warm enough, such as South Africa, California, Spain and, of course, southern France.

What does Syrah wine taste like?

In its home in the northern Rhône, Syrah usually tastes of raspberry and black pepper, with a distinct floral note like violet or lavender, and can be surprisingly light-bodied, despite the firm tannins. In Australia, these flavours move towards dark cherry, chocolate and liquorice, but in good examples, always with that floral freshness. Very long-lived wines like Penfolds Grange from Australia or Hermitage in France are made from Syrah. As it ages, it takes on notes of leather, tobacco, bacon and spices, but it also makes great juicy, fresh wines. Syrah is a variety that responds to being served cooler to bring out its floral side.

What dishes go well with Syrah wine?

north african chicken tagine

Try it with roast lamb or spices in chickpea curry or North African dishes.

Wine Club Star

seasons reds

RedHeads Coco Rôtie 2018

Coco Rôtie comes from the Shiraz heartland of south Australia. It’s a tribute to a certain famous French wine that's made from Syrah blended with a little Viognier. This is a burly, fruit-packed wine, but the white grape works its magic, bringing out its delicate floral side. Great with spicy food like a lamb rogan josh.

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Enjoyed learning more about wine? Check out even more pairing guides:

How to taste wine
The best wines to drink with chicken
How to choose wine
How to pair wine with food
Syrah/Shiraz


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Wine expert Henry Jeffreys, along with the BBC Good Food team, selects all of the wines on offer to BBC Good Food readers. Henry writes about wine for The Guardian and The Spectator, and on his blog, worldofbooze.wordpress.com. He’s also a judge in the Best Drinks Producer category for the BBC Food and Farming Awards. His book, The Home Bar (£25, Jacqui Small), is out now.

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