In most grocery store wine sections you’ll usually find bottles of Syrah in the same vicinity of bottles of Petite Sirah. Unfortunately this is probably because the person who stocks those shelves doesn’t know very much about wine. Though it sounds the same, Petite Sirah is not a baby version of Syrah. It’s a completely different grape, known in other climes as Durif. About the only thing they share in common is that both types of grapes are used to make red wine.
Shiraz, on the other hand, is Syrah… just different names. The Australians call it Shiraz and claim they are being true to the grape’s origin, which is reputed to be the city of Shiraz in southwest Iran… known as the city of Poetry, Wine and Roses. The French apparently wanted to make Shiraz sound a little more pretentious, so they renamed it Syrah. The Californians knew that they could charge more for a wine made from a French sounding grape, so they stuck with Syrah for the most part. Since they are grown upside down, the Australians may just like to be a little contrary too. They also produce Durif.
Can all of this get a bit confusing? You bet shiraz.
Pinot Now Recommendation:
Yellowtail Shiraz or Yellowtail Reserve Shiraz, $6 to $12 – it’s inexpensive, it’s rich, it’s inky dark and chocolaty. You can buy it at your local gas station, and it’s probably made using techniques that are illegal in other parts of the world, but Yellowtail Shiraz has won my personal wine tasting competition two years in a row. Serve it in a decanter and your guests will say it’s the best wine they ever had.