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Blog #4: Hoorah for Syrah!

There is an old saying “Variety is the spice of life.” My life is a testament to that! I have had seven job changes in five states and met many interesting people along the way. I love looking for the next adventure or the next new experience. That is why I enjoy wine tasting so very much. There seems to be no end to the range of aromas and tastes in wines produced around the world. And that is why I am such a fan of Syrah, or Shiraz, the name of this variety depending on where this variety is grown.

My favorite shiraz, made by the Mollydooker winery, is a lovely and bold wine called “Carnival of Love.” This wine has been in Wine Spectator’s top ten three times in the last 15 years, for good reason. The intensity of aromas and flavors will knock your socks off. Unless you are independently wealthy, it will never be your Wednesday wine, but please treat yourself to a bottle when you can. The experience was a revelation for me! The more affordable version, Mollydooker “The Boxer,” does not have the finesse of its more expensive sister but is bountiful in great flavors.

So here are why a few wine connoisseurs turn their nose up to Syrah or Shiraz: high alcohol content. Even the examples grown in cooler climates will start around 13% alcohol. The lower alcohol examples come from the northern Rhône Valley of France, notably Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie, parts of Chile, and Sonoma Coast in California. In this cooler environment, this Syrah wine with medium acidity, moderate tannins, produces wines with strong blackberry and violet aromas and earthy, smoky flavors. Some people detect dark chocolate on the palate of the California Syrah, but I personally have a tough time detecting it amidst the lovely savory notes. In the Old-world Syrah of France, some wine drinkers detect olives. The higher acid, earthy and savory flavors pair well with mushrooms, stews, veal, and red-sauced pastas.

In the warmer climates such as the South Australian regions of Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills, the Shiraz wines can be in the 15% range. Light weights beware! These wines are lush, fruit-forward, very full bodied, with strong blackberry aromas, a bit jammy at times, but still has the savory notes of smoke and bacon and spicy notes of white and black pepper and licorice that delight the palate. Easy-drinking, fruity Shiraz goes great with casual foods like burgers and BBQ ribs, and, in general, roasted, or braised meats.

I highly recommend you add Syrah wines to your wine collection. The next time you have ribs or a stew, reach for the Syrah instead of the Cab. I think you will say “Hoorah for Syrah”!