The shiraz grape makes some of the darkest and fullest-bodied red wines in the world. The deep and complex flavour profile makes drinking this wine an intense experience, but a very rewarding one for those who roll up their sleeves and see it through.
The archetypal Australian shiraz, grown on old vines in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, offers up flavours of dark fruit (think over-ripe plum and red berries), chocolate, spice, tobacco, cured meats, cloves and liquorice. The finish will be okay, as this wine tends to spend more time in the barrel than most.
Is shiraz sweet or dry?
Shiraz, like almost all Australian reds, has zero residual sugar added to it. This makes it a dry wine. But that’s not to say it lacks sweetness; with red berry flavours hitting the palate hard, sweet-tooths will enjoy their fair share of fruitiness. This shouldn’t be mistaken for the more direct sweetness of a red wine like port though, as it comes naturally from the grape rather than from added sugar.
What’s the difference between shiraz and syrah?
Keen-eyed wine fans may have noted that Australia seems to be one of the only countries that produces shiraz, and they’d be right. Sort of. What we call shiraz, most of the world calls syrah – they’re the exact same grape, but by the mid-1800s, either through bad spelling or bad pronunciation, we Aussies had managed to mangle the original French term into shiraz, which you’ve got to admit is far more Australian sounding.
So the only real difference between shiraz and syrah is where they come from. Australia and a few other New World wine regions use the term shiraz, while the rest, including all Old World regions, use syrah.
Is shiraz the heaviest red wine?
In wine we use the term ‘body’ to describe the intensity or heaviness of the wine. This scale runs from light-bodied to full-bodied, and is somewhat subjective.
Shiraz is considered by most to be the fullest-bodied Australian wine. While others like Sagrantino and Petite Sirah are arguably fuller-bodied than shiraz, they aren’t widely grown or sold here. The older the vines on which shiraz is grown the fuller-bodied the wine will generally be, so the shirazes of the Barossa, some from vines over a century old, are up there with the fullest and most intense in the world.
What is the best shiraz?
Australian shiraz has become an iconic wine across the world in recent decades, and there are a few headliners that could claim the title of Australia’s best - The Laird from Torbreck, Henschke’s Hill of Grace, and Chris Ringland’s Dry Grown Shiraz to name a few.
But most experts agree that one wine stands neck and cork above the rest. Penfolds Grange is less a bottle of grape juice than it is an icon and status symbol, and is inevitably awarded 100 points from any wine expert who cares to taste it.