Syrah may be the most easy-going wine on the planet, and it's fast becoming one of the most popular.
Here it comes!
What is syrah anyway?
In Australia, Shiraz is the most popular red grape, used for making inexpensive, casual wines, as well as Penfolds Grange, the country's most famous wine -- and one of its most expensive. South Africa also produces very good Shiraz.
Who loves Syrah?
Winemakers love Syrah because it lends itself to many styles of wine, from the big, muscular versions that were first made popular 40 years ago in Australia to the more elegant, yet complex and full-bodied traditional styles from the Northern Rhï¿½ne -- even to sparkling versions. Wines made from Syrah have the potential for serious aging (as in Hermitage and Cï¿½te-Rï¿½tie), but they can also be made in a more accessible, easy-to-drink style, as in California Syrahs. It's also a terrific blending wine, since it has great depth of color and structure -- so great, that in the 18th century Bordeaux wine merchants were caught adding Syrah from the Rhï¿½ne to their red Bordeaux to give them deeper color.
American diners love Syrah because it goes so well with such a wide variety of the foods we love -- especially casual dishes, such as hamburgers, pizza, pastas, barbecue ribs and chicken and grilled steaks. In fact, easy-to-drink and easy-to-match Syrah, with its often gentle tannins, works well with grilled and roasted foods of all kinds, since its smoky character picks up their flavors nicely.