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How the X?!? is Shiraz pronounced?


The first time I remember tasting a Shiraz was during college. I remember it being very bold, velvety, and with lots of vanilla notes! What I would have described as sweet, but now I know better. There's a difference between sweet and fruit forward!

Shiraz is the Australian term for Syrah a native grape of the Rhone area of France. The Syrah grape is hefty, with thick skin, and a beautiful dark purple/black color when crushed. Because of this grape's toughness, it can better deal with differences between climates, hence also why there is such a difference in taste and style between Syrah and Shiraz even though it is the same grape.

Syrah can be dusty, meaty, spicy, with herbal elements that range from anise to eucalyptus to olives. When it is grown in Australia's hot, dry climate the grape is a dark purple with red hues, more fruit forward, and very high in alcohol. It is not a surprise to find a Shiraz at 14.9%. It's actually probably well over 15%, but wine is taxed higher at the 15% level and wine makers are given a little leeway with labeling the alcohol because of this. So probably a Shiraz at 14.9% abv is probably more like 15.4%. At this alcohol level you are pretty much guaranteed to have a bigger more fruit forward wine. So you Napa Cab drinkers, this is the Australian for you!

Okay so the title of this post is why you are reading this. Shiraz (Sure-ahzz)as I was saying it for years, and even at the wine stores I worked at the owners were saying it that way. It wasn't until about 2 years ago that I realized that I should be saying it with jazz hands because that is how it is properly said....Shir-azz (jazz hands).

I've had this discussion with wine reps about how to say it properly, and they all agree that it is this way, but they admit in the American vernacular we all say Sure-ahzz. We elongate the vowels in order to feel superior I guess? However if you go down under make sure you say Shir-azz and use jazz hands!