Deep, dark Shiraz

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This is a red wine so deep in colour it is almost purple-black, evoking mystery and sensuality in its flavours. It goes well with winter fares such as game, rich stews, and robust meat.

Syrah or Shiraz, as it is known in Australia, is a grape variety once largely confined to the vineyards of the northern Rhône in France. It has travelled widely since and is now increasingly successful in Australia, in Midi South Africa and California.

How ripe the syrah grapes become is an important factor in the resulting wine. In the northern Rhône where there is an absence of excessive heat the wine is very dark, almost black, very dry and tannic with the unmistakable nuances of black pepper on the tongue.

Warm regions such as Australia’s Barossa Valley produce syrah that is exotic, soft with bursts of fruit, and a savoury element. Australia itself has both cool and warm regions so that Australian syrah varies. Generally, Australian syrah is rich, full-bodied, fairly tannic but almost sweet. The cool areas of Victoria and Coonawarra impart that black pepper characteristic.

Did you know?

• Cleaning detergent residue left in a glass affects the taste of the wine so make sure your wine glasses are thoroughly washed.

• Good syrah should be served at a temperature of between 16ºC to 18ºC.