Need some help what food pairs best with Syrah? Here are some great pairing suggestions.

Are you celebrating International Syrah Day cracking open a nice bottle of this well-loved varietal on the 16th of February?

If you do, you might want to pair it with a nice meal.

Which is perfect, because Syrah is one of the most food-friendly grapes and thus pairs perfectly with a wide range of popular dishes.

A quick introduction to Syrah

Currently the sixth most planted grape variety globally, Syrah is one of the so-called ‘international’ varieties. While grown all over the world, its origins are in France. More precisely, the Syrah grape origins in the Rhone area in south-eastern France. Here it developed from two widely unknown varieties, Dureza and Mondeuse blanche. Proof to this comes from more recent research identifying the grape’s DNA and this finally proofed speculations about the grape’s origins laying in the ancient Iranian city of Shiraz wrong once and for all. 

That said, the varietal is indeed also known as Shiraz. Interestingly, this goes indeed back to the old believe the grape initially came from Shiraz (Iran). Therefore, when exporting the first Syrah vines to Australia in the 19th century, they were labelled as ‘scyras’.

What is the difference between Syrah and Shiraz?

Syrah and Shiraz grapes are the same variety. However, the style of the wines made from Syrah/Shiraz grapes can vary significantly according to the area where the grapes are grown.

Those wines coming from cooler growing areas are typically lighter in body and alcohol and express finer tannins. Meanwhile, wines from warmer growing areas are more intense and richer, with riper aromas, full-bodied and higher in alcohol. 

Syrah: What Are The Best Food Pairings

Initially, mostly wines coming from Australia were named Shiraz while those made in Europe or the U.S. were typically called Syrah.

More recently, however, this rule has changed and the chosen name on the label is no longer differentiating between a broad geography (i.e. continents) but rather if the grapes are grown within a cooler or warmer winegrowing area. Thus also wines made in Europe might now bear the name Shiraz if they come from a warmer growing area, while those made in cooler growing areas in Australia might now be called Syrah.

What are the key characteristics of Syrah?

Syrah, the wines from cooler winegrowing regions are medium to full-bodied wines with medium to high alcohol levels, medium tannins, and acidity.

In the glass, Syrah is of deep ruby-red to purple colour and almost impenetrable to light.

On the nose, intense aromas of dark fruit (blackberry, black current, dark cherries, and dragon fruit), violet, bold spices, black pepper, and notes of vanilla and clove from aging in oak.

On the palate, medium to full-bodied with fresh black fruit notes, brisk acidity, firm tannins and medium to high alcohol levels.

Ageability: Syrah is a perfect wine for aging. The majority will age well for 5-9 years but depending on the quality, Syrah can easily age up to 25 years.

What are the best food pairings with Syrah?

Cooler climate Syrah which typically will use shorter oak aging displaying fruity flavours, and a slightly sharp acidity pairs particularly well with bold foods. In particular grilled or braised red meet that match the intensity of the wine. The smoky flavours from the grill will perfectly pair with the characteristic aromas of Syrah (sweet fruit, black pepper, earthy notes, and tobacco).

The best food pairings for Syrah

  • Grilled meat such as char-grilled steak, grilled lamb, and grilled pork
  • Grilled and spicy sausages
  • Grilled vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes
  • Grilled or seared tuna
  • Braised and barbequed chicken
  • Hamburgers
  • Dishes with garlic and fragrant herbs such as thyme, oregano, and rosemary
  • Dishes with thick texture such as beef stews, polenta, and black beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Pepperoni pizza
  • Aged hart cheeses such as gouda, aged cheddar and parmigiano  
  • Appetizer/finger foods such as charcuterie, black olives
  • Dark chocolate desserts

Foods you should definitely avoid pairing with Syrah include seafood, along with delicate and extremely sour dishes.

Do you have a favourite Syrah and food pairing? Let me know what it is.