A Syrah by any other name

WG HQ is crushing hard over Syrah, in all its many guises, and we each have our favorite. Gary, our tech chief, loves the big jammy Shiraz, while Sam, his Somm partner-in-crime, prefers the subtle notes of an earthy Syrah. We’ve tapped a range for this tasting, to allow you to explore the wine from a 360-degree perspective, which helps in differentiating Syrah and Shiraz from other big reds like Cabernet.

Because the cool kids all have their own unique style.




Syrah – Pick 2 or 3 from around the world:

  • Northern Rhone Syrah and/or Australian Shiraz: These are most often 100% Syrah and each has a unique style. See above. $25-$65+

  • Central Coast Syrah: Our friends at Qupe make a lovely wine that shows off the difference between California Syrah and that of France or Australia. Often blended with a bit of Tempranillo, Grenache or Mourvedre. $20

Grenache – Pick 1:

  • Chateauneuf du Pape (more expensive) or Cote du Rhone (less expensive) – Grenache blended with Syrah and other grapes. $15-55+

  • California and Australia make wonderful Grenache-dominant wines. Yalumba Old Bush Vines or Yangarra Estates both offer impeccable examples from Australia, while Joel Gott and Bonny Doon represent California well. $18-35+

  • Spanish Grenache. Well-known brands are affordable and easy to find such as Los Rocas and Camp Viejo. $9-20

Tasting Tip: Grenache is often lighter in color, even higher in alcohol and smells of red fruits like strawberries versus dark fruits such as blueberries. 

Cabernet and/or Bordeaux Blends – Pick 1 or 2:
One Cab dominant blend plus one other blend would be perfect.

  • California Cabernet: Big, tannic, most often these are oak-aged.

  • Bordeaux Blend: A blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc typically from Bordeaux, France, Australia or California. We bet this one will give your guests a run for their money!

Tasting Tip: While Cabernet and Syrah are both “big” wines, Cabernet tends to have more astringent tannins and cedar, tobacco notes.

Shiraz-Cabernet Blends – Pick 1:

  • Australian Cabernet/Syrah blend. Most major Australian brands offer a version including Yellow Tail, Penfolds and Jip Jip. $15-30

Evil WineGame tip: Confuse matters even more by mixing them all up!