(This is beginning of a 4-part blog series called, “Syrah Education for Real Life” to amplify your passion for Syrahs or having to opportunity to learn about something you are not familiar with!)
This blog is a puzzle of understanding which specific wine (here’s a hint: it’s a Shiraz!) that I’m tasting. I will provide clues below that will help educate and challenge you, the reader. As I am listing each clue below, please do yourself a favor and do not venture to the internet to search for the results until the end of this post. At the end of the blog, I’ll unveil the name of the mystery Shiraz.
But, before we play this game, what characteristics should you expect when tasting a Shiraz?
- The color ranges from ruby to maroon with a slight tinge of purple
- The aromas offer lots of ripe and cooked cherries with smoke, game, and black pepper
- The finish is distinctively warm with high levels of alcohol while the fruit and pepper emerge as its staple flavors
- Depending on the winemaker, the amount of dry tannins ranges from light to instantaneous
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Clue #1: It’s a Mystery Shiraz, not a Mystery Syrah
Shiraz is the marketing term for the grape varietal “Syrah” in Australia. Those Aussies wanted to stand out in the marketing, hence their ploy to create a catch-phrase name to showcase “their” trademark wine. We will rule out any mystery Syrah or “Shiraz” wines from outside Australia, which unfortunately excludes one of my favorites: Darioush Shiraz from Napa Valley, California.
Clue #2: It’s Only $10 per Bottle (At Most)
Given the price, we can go ahead and rule out major wineries like Mollydooker, and Claredon Hills here that cost easily more than $40 per bottle. You’re probably starting to think that the wine isn’t sold much in specialty shops, either (you’re right).
Clue #3: This Mystery Shiraz is Widely Available in the United States and Around the World
In this case, big box and discount stores now play a factor like Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco, Albertsons, Kroger’s, Smith’s, Vons, and other various discount liquor stores.
Clue #4: Wine Spectator Listed the 2005 “Reserve” Version of the Mystery Shiraz on the Publication’s 2007 Top 100 List
Here’s a curveball! Sommeliers, wine lovers, and wine experts heavily rely upon wine and spirits outlets and publications like Wine Spectator to retrieve the necessary information to sell to customers (The Wine Spectator Grand Tour in Las Vegas is my Superbowl every May!) If you feel the need to cheat, go to the Wine Spectator 2007 Top 100 list and you’ll get an idea there. But please wait! Pretty please!
And Now, the Mystery Shiraz is…
Yellow Tail Shiraz! If you guessed the answer, great job!!!! If you didn’t, it’s totally fine. This kind of wine puzzle takes practice, and there plenty more to come. Keep at it, though – figuring these mystery wines out will really help you learn more about tasting wine and what do expect from different varietals and regions.
The biggest reason I wanted to use this wine is because Yellow Tail Shiraz, thanks to many people from around the wine industry, has a negative connotation as a “cheap wine.” Every winemaker has their recipe and technique and it would be wonderful if more people could appreciate the process and not just the price tag. Besides, the average price of a bottle of wine purchased in the United States is $8.98. When the 2007 Wine Spectator Top 100 was released, Yellow Tail Shirax actually cost $11. The market has spoken!
If this blog has been your introduction into Syrah (or Shiraz) wine education, then you should know tht this is only the first of a 4-part series designed to help you learn about this grape and then relate it to your everyday lives.
Part 1: Introduction to Shiraz
Part 2: Syrahs for the Pinot and Cabernet Lover
Part 3: Cooking at home with Syrahs
Part 4: Branching Out from the Syrah Grapes
Part 2-4 will only be available on my email list, so please subscribe at the bottom of the page to learn more. If you have a favorite Syrah or Shiraz, I’d love to hear about it! You can post it on any of my social media pages (here’s my Twitter and Facebook) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org!