Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?

Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?

Paula Goddard’s Wines of the Week starting 30th September 2019

When I’m giving a wine talk there will inevitably be questions from the audience keen to understand more about the wine they’ve just bought on their last visit to the supermarket, or some question that’s been niggling away waiting to be answered from someone who knows.

While I try my best to fit into this category I don’t claim to know all the answers but here are a few of my answers to the questions I get asked most frequently – which usually starts with “Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?”.

Well my answer to that is yes Shiraz can also be spelt Syrah – it’s the same grape variety just grown somewhere with a different spelling system. Nobody is quite sure why the spelling changed when immigrants took cuttings of Syrah grape vines down-under but it’s probably down to the fact that, until this century, most people couldn’t write, and the few that were able to, did so using a spelling system based on how they heard the word being pronounced. Or possibly how they saw someone else spelling it, or even if they just felt like trying out a few alternatives now and again – just think of the many ways William Shakespeare spelt his name, or is that Bill Shackspar?

Another commonly asked questions is “Which type of wine, on the whole, is most likely to make my mouth feel dry: white, rosé or red?”.

Tricky one this. It’s red wine. Well it’s all down to the tannin. Tannin is found in grape pips and grape skins – and it’s the skins that give red wine its high tannin levels because these are added to the mix when you make red wine. Rosé wine has the skins taken out of the brew after only a short time so the tannin (and colour) is lower. In white wine the skins aren’t used at all, so consequently it generally has a lower tannin content and so feels less drying when you drink it.

So now you know.

PG Wine Reviews

This…Loves…Lamb Monastrell-Petit Verdot 2017, Spain
£4.99 Aldi
Bargain of the Week. This wine forms part of the new This.Loves.. wine range from Aldi designed to specifically match foods and flavours. This Spanish red blend suggests you drink this with lamb or pork stews or hard cheese. I chose to match it with a meal of Frankfurters – and very well it went too. Its creamy plum and touch of violet flavours was a good foil to the smoky sausages.

Beppe Morchetta Italian Rosso 2017
£8.99 Virgin Wines
Flavours of cherry, cranberry and raisin.

Mirabeau Côtes de Provence rosé 2017
£10.99 Waitrose Cellar
A delightfully pale pink rosé with light fruit flavours.

Quintessence Chateau Pesquié 2016, France
£19.47 Uvinum.co.uk
A deeply coloured Rhone Valley red with a whopping 15% alcohol. So treat with caution or sip as you would a port. Its plum and milk chocolate flavours do match food rather well too.

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© Paula Goddard 2019 www.paulagoddard.com