Alright first thinks first… lets get the elephant out of the room. YES! they are the same grape. And I know what you’re thinking… “but they’re grown virtually worlds apart…. how can they be the same?”. Well while we’re on the topic of elephants Syrah and Shiraz are like Indian and African elephants- everyone knows there’s supposed to be a difference, but only people who know their stuff can really tell the difference. Well their is a lot of similarities between the two, but I’m going to try and not bore you with those details. Instead I’ll try and bore you with some slight differences!!!

Well the first difference- a little obvious but a good place to start nonetheless- is the name. In its country of origin France the grape is generally referred to as Syrah, along with Argentina, Chile, and the United States. However, the Australians opted to call it Shiraz. The name Shiraz is potentially the result of the English language on french- similar to the name of whiskey is the result of the Irish Fuisce Beatha. Bordeaux wines were always popular in England, but in the 18th and 19th century the wines from Bordeaux were lacking in something and needed that little bit of extra bite. Hence the inclusion of Syrah coming into England… so the name most have been interpreted (by some British Gentleman) to have a silent z at the end of it, and now we have Syrah and Shiraz.

The best parallel i have heard when describing the difference between them both is that Shiraz is more emotive, while Syrah is more refined! If Syrah is the smile then Shiraz is the giggle. not encumbered by years of tradition- and to a certain degree stagnation- the Australians took the Syrah and gave it a whole new personality. It flourished in its new home in Australia, and took over regions like Barossa Valley- which produces some of the most powerful full bodied reds in the world. Having said all this though they are now worlds apart, and maybe not in taste but in feel, and the sense you get from them as you drink them- Australian Shiraz for the party or BBQ, and French Syrah for the Dinner party’s. To most people they’ll always be just two elephants, but part of the fun with wine is finding the subtle differences between wines, and being able to know the difference for yourself!

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