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In each monthly email update we spotlight a grape, region, vineyard or winemaker. This time it’s about Syrah because next month, on the 16th of February, it’s International Syrah Day. A great excuse to pop open a bottle you’ve been saving. 

Syrah is responsible for giving us some of the darkest full-bodied wines. And it has a history which is just as rich. The grape rules the Northern Rhone Valley where it was first planted by the Romans, sometime after AD 20. There are some theories that believe it was actually cultivated by the Greeks 500 years earlier than the Romans!

The key flavours of Syrah include Blackberry, Blueberry, Liquorice and that characteristic Black Pepper. But prominence will change depending on where it’s planted.

Because it’s quite a big wine it’s often blended, such as in the southern Rhone where it partners with Grenache and Mourvedre (GSM). These blends often help with the mid-palate to help make the wine more complete. 

If you’re thinking of opening a bottle to enjoy on the 16th, here are some tips for food pairing: 

  • In general Syrah goes well with meat – roasted, grilled and smoked
  • Aussie versions (aka Shiraz), like most Aussies, love a BBQ.
  • Fragrant herbs help bring out some of its subtleties. 
  • And Cheese! Syrah and cheese are a great match.

If you’re wondering what the difference is between Syrah and Shiraz, check out Wine With Jimmy’s video guide. Or Richard Hemming MW explains it in this video.

Photo by Marius Ciocirlan