Syrah grapes are already being harvested in the warmer regions of California. The harvest in the coastal areas, however, won't happen for another week or so. Here are some important things to know about the versatile variety Syrah.
1. Syrah is the exact same grape as Shiraz. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, this varietal is called Shiraz. In the US and Europe it is referred to as Syrah.
2. Don’t confuse Syrah with Petite Syrah as they are completely different grapes. That being said, Petite Syrah is actually the child of Syrah and a relatively rare grape by the name of Peloursin.
3. Syrah is the darkest of all the red wines. Made from a nearly black grape, the wine is opaque, an almost inky purple-black.
4. Some of the world’s famous cult wines are made from Syrah. For example, both Hermitage and Chateauneuf de Pape from France’s Rhone, as well as Penfolds Le Grange from Australia are made from Syrah.
5. Syrah works well in both cool and warm climates. In the cooler climates the spicy profile tends toward flavors of white pepper. In warmer climates, the spicy character changes to black pepper with layers of espresso and dark chocolate.
6. Syrah pairs great with bold foods: think BBQ or spicy. As with any pairing, try to match the wine’s weight and flavor intensity with that of the food’s weight and flavor intensity.