Updated February 18, 2011
Veronica Z. asks Tim –
I'm rather new to the wine world and after shopping through your beautiful store, I noticed two red wines that have me a bit confused. Shiraz and Syrah, what is the difference? I'm sure this is a common question, however can you simplify the answer for a newbie like me?
Tim responds –
This is one of the most common questions in the wine world, so don't feel alone. To begin, Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape. Depending on where the wine comes from will decipher which word is used, usually. However, there is a tad bit more to it than that. I will do my best to keep it simple, as requested. I read a quote the other day that best describes the two, "Shiraz is the Bruce Wayne of the wine world, thereby making Syrah...Batman." In translation, this means Shiraz tends to be straightforward, bright and vibrant on the palate while Syrah is more smoky and mysterious. Syrah is classically grown in the Rhone Valley in southeastern France as well as the United States. The term Shiraz is used in Australia the most, but also in South America, South Africa and sometimes in the United States as well. Since vines have spread throughout many isolated areas through the years, it's only natural that through the course of of many different languages and cultures that a variety of names appear for the same grape. My suggestion is to try both as see which alter ego you are, Bruce Wayne or Batman.
Cheers! Tim Brinkmann