Shiraz - the History of Shiraz Wine

By: Jennifer Waite

Shiraz, known as syrah in France, Chile, Argentina and most parts of the United States, is a type of grape. This grape, used to make wine, has a deep purple color. Shiraz is a unique wine, and has one of the highest serving temperatures of them all, 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The name Shiraz is taken from the city of Shiraz, Iran, where it is said that the process of wine making originated 7,000 years ago. According to some historic accounts, Guy De'Sterimberg brought Shiraz to southern France after visiting Iran during the crusades. Eventually, he became a hermit and created a vineyard on a hill near his home in the Rhone River Valley. This wine became known as the Hermitage.

Many times, Shiraz is blended with other grape varieties, like Merlot, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lately, some Austrailian Shiraz producers have begun adding nerly 4 percent Viognier  to their wine, which adds apricot tones to the scent and flavor of the wine. Because it's such a small percentage, the producer doesn't have to declare on the label that the wine is a blend.

Under American wine laws, either Shiraz or Syrah may appear on the bottle's label, though few American wineries choose to follow the New World style and label them Syrah. While increasing amounts of the grape are being grown in Washington state, California still has the stronghold in America. Introduced in 1985 to the state of Washington by the Woodinville, Washington Columbia Winery, the area is also blending Shiraz with Grenache, Viognier and Cinsault.

In very warm regions, the shiraz grape usually isn't strong enough to stand on its own in a bottle. In more mountainous areas, however, wineries tend to produce more varietal based wines. This is why many of the Shiraz wines that come out of Napa Valley, CA tend to be blends.

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