Syrah / Shiraz Taste Profile

Close up image of group toasting with red wine.

The Syrah / Shiraz Taste Profile is made up of a unique combination of color, flavors, aromas, and structure. These elements are referred to as wine characteristics. Syrah and Shiraz are the same wine grape, but the name indicates differences in wine production. We’ll identify these differences and pinpoint their hallmark characteristics that will help you identify the wine by sight, smell, and taste.

Unique Syrah and Shiraz Characteristics

Each type of wine grape develops a unique combination of flavors and aromas. These flavors and aromas are influenced by things like their growing environment (climate and soil – aka terroir), the fermentation process (aka yeast converting sugar to alcohol), and maturation (such as aging in oak barrels).

Syrah is grown in the cool climate of Northern Rhône, France.  Shiraz is grown in the warm climate of Australia. Wine producers in other regions of the world who mimic the French style will call their wine Syrah and likewise, those who mimic the Australian style will call their wine Shiraz.

Color

The color for red wine ranges from Pale Red to Bright Ruby Red to Deep Purple. Red wine color comes from the grape skins. Grapes with thin skins and light skin color will translate to a pale red wine and will be translucent (you’ll be able to see through the wine). Grapes with thick skins and dark skin color will translate to a deep purple wine color that is opaque (in other words you won’t be able to see much of anything through the wine).

Image shows the color range for red wine is Pale Red, Deep Rudy, and Deep Purple. Syrah/Shiraz is identified as Deep Purple in color.

Syrah / Shiraz Wine Color: deep purple and opaque.

The Syrah grape has very thick skin and has a deep color which results in this very dark, opaque wine.

Flavors & Aromas

Look for Fruit, Floral, Herbal, Vegetal, and Spice notes to identify flavors and aromas in wine.

Fruit:  Red wines come in a range with cool-climate wines showing more tart red fruit notes (red cherry, raspberry, strawberry), to warm-climate wines exhibiting more black fruit notes (blackberry, black cherry, black currant).

Spice:  Notes like vanilla and clove come from aging in oak. In red wines, you may also find notes of black pepper.

Vegetal:  Some red wines exhibit notes of green bell pepper.

Image showing the range of red wine flavors and aromas from cool climate wines with red fruit notes to warm climate wines with black fruit notes.

What does SYRAH taste like? Cool climate Syrah still leans toward the black fruit end of the spectrum. It produces fresh black fruit notes of blackberry along with black pepper, and vanilla and clove from aging in oak barrels.

What does SHIRAZ taste like? Warm climate Shiraz produces jammy black fruit notes of black cherry and licorice along with vanilla and clove from aging in oak barrels.

Wine Structure

Wine structure is a combination of acidity (that sour, pucker sensation), sweetness levels, tannin (that bitter taste and drying sensation), alcohol levels (abv: alcohol by volume), and body (the heaviness of the wine — think skim milk vs whole milk).

Chart that identifies Cabernet Sauvignon wine structure of medium acidity, dry, 13-15% abv, high tannin, and full-body.

Syrah Wine Structure:  Medium acidity, dry, high tannin, 13-14.5% abv, full body.

Shiraz Wine Structure:  Medium acidity, dry, high tannin, 14-15% abv, full body.

While the structure is very similar Shiraz has higher alcohol content which you’ll identify by the heat in the back of your throat.

Hallmarks of Syrah / Shiraz Taste Profile

The typical taste profile of SYRAH is its deep inky color, medium acidity, high tannin and full body with more subtle fresh black fruit notes and black pepper. Think of it as a subtler version of Shiraz.

The typical profile of SHIRAZ is its deep inky color, medium acidity, high tannin, full body with jammy black fruit. It’s a bigger, bolder version compared to Syrah.

Look for Syrah / Shiraz from these top regions:

Northern Rhône, France – Labeled Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Crozes-Hermitage
Australia – Barossa Valley labeled Shiraz

Learn more about the history, top regions, wine recommendations, and pairings with this post: Learn About Syrah / Shiraz.



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