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Syrah, Shiraz and Petit Sirah

What’s the difference?

Some wine names require some tongue twisting to get the pronunciation right. Like that isn’t hard enough, you have to make sure you are talking about the right one, because Syrah, Shiraz and Petit Sirah basically sound the same right? But they are not all the same. We will help you find the differences between these similar names.

Let’s start with Syrah and Shiraz. Well, the difference here is mostly in the spelling. They are made from the same grape called “Syrah”. In France, where it’s originally from, it is called it Syrah and its Australian name is Shiraz. The grape itself is one of the world’s most “noble” wine grapes and has become a favourite for blends. Though from the same grape, there is still a small difference in the taste. The taste of the Syrah and Shiraz depends on the terroir and winemaking styles.

There are two kinds of Syrah in France, the one from the northern regions and the other from the southern wine-producing regions. The northern variety is made from 100% Syrah grapes and often described as being powerful, manly, meaty, leathery, strapping, vigorous, serious, peppery & bold. They are dark, intense, and masculine wines that generally require years of aging to tame their strong tannins.  The southern variety at the other hand is mostly a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre.  These are also deep coloured and robust reds, but tend to be more approachable and food friendly than their northern neighbours. The Australian version of Syrah, “Shiraz”, has become Down Under’s most important wine grape. The Shiraz comes in a 100% Shiraz grapes variety and also in a blend of Shiraz with Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Just to make things a little bit more confusing for you, we need to mention that there is also a grape called “Petit Sirah”. It is a hybrid between Syrah and another grape called Peloursin. There has been a rumour that this name was chosen on purpose in the hope that it will be mistaken for Syrah. However, it has gained some popularity of the years and actually became a pioneer in California. When blended with other varieties it can make some interesting wines.

So there you have it, two are the same and one is a hybrid. Remember that just because they are all linked to Syrah, don’t expect them all to be the same. Taste them all to determine which fits you best.