So what can you expect from a Shiraz on the top shelf of the supermarket wine aisle that is so expensive that it comes with a security tag? Well it will taste somewhat like its cheaper cousins on the lower shelf with flavours of both blackcurrant and plum. And if those grapes used to make the wine have been grown somewhere warm (say Australia) then the flavour can exhibit spicy flavours like liquorice and black pepper – which do have an unfortunate tendency to come across a bit like burnt rubber in some South African Shiraz.
But what you’ll also find are lots of flavours that all complement each other (which you’ll notice in higher priced white wines too) so that no one flavour dominates, plus the ability to keep on drinking to the end of the bottle rather than getting bored half way down – which can be the case with some cheaper Shiraz where only one or two flavours make up the wine.
This complexity often gets better if you decant the wine – just open the bottle and pour the wine into a jug or a decanter if you have one (I use a decanter emblazoned with ‘Stowells of Chelsea’ which I bought at a charity shop years ago) and let it sit there for half an hour or so while you rustle up the evening meal.
This action of pouring the wine and leaving it in a wide brimmed vessel allows for a tiny amount of aeration – just enough to get the molecules mingling in the wine and uncovering the juicy, enjoyable flavours that can stay hidden if the red is left in the bottle.
Lighter flavours can be found in cooler climate Shiraz, as well as being spelt Syrah (no-one quite knows which spelling is the original and which the corrupted version), these can taste more lightly of raspberry and redcurrant.
All in all Shiraz (or Syrah) is a red that deserves matching to your best meat and gravy dishes as well as anything to do with chocolate.
PG Wine Reviews
Wolf Blass Eaglehawk Australian Shiraz
Damson cream, raspberry and coffee flavours.
Mister Shiraz 2016, Chile
Spicy and peppery. A decent Shiraz.
Waitrose St Hallett Barossa Shiraz Reserve, Australia
£8.99 Waitrose (down from £11.99 until July 11)
Plum and spice flavours.
Villa Maria New Zealand Private Bin Syrah 2011
Damson, black pepper and sweet pepper.
Lof Syrah 2014, Chile
£19.99 Virgin Wines
Lots of the usual red fruit flavours plus earthiness and hints of rosemary.