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Syrah Food Pairing Advice

Written by Madeline Puckette

Understand how and why certain foods work better with Syrah wine.

Syrah Food Pairing

Syrah is a famous wine that has a wide range of tastes depending on where it grows. For example, in France, Syrah has olive-like flavors and in Australia (called Shiraz since the 1980’s), you’ll taste blackberry and sweet tobacco. Despite the differences in regional flavors, there are some simple tricks to Syrah food pairing.

Diagram of Flavors and Taste of Syrah Wine Pairing

Match Intensity Levels

Match lighter Syrah wines with more delicate foods.

Cool Climate Syrah This type of Syrah usually hails from cooler climates such as Sonoma, Santa Ynez, Washington State and the Northern Rhône (like the AOP: St. Joseph). Typically, a lighter Syrah uses less oak aging. These wines beg you to stick your nose in the glass and usually taste a little more tart (bursting with mouth-watering fruit flavor).

Ideal Pairing: Grilled Lamb With its delicate flavors, lamb is a great choice for the lighter style of Syrah. Try Lamb Shawarma or Gyros or, if you’re preparing it yourself, play with your spice rack to magnify the natural flavors in Syrah of allspice, clove, and mint. (Vegetarian option: brined and grilled eggplant)

Bolder Syrah (and Shiraz) pair with more intensely-flavored foods.

Warm Climate Syrah This type of Syrah comes from hotter regions such as Napa, McLaren Vale (Australia), Sierra Foothills, Paso Robles, Argentina, Spain, and South Africa. A bolder Syrah will see a little more new oak aging which adds to its rich texture and sweet tannin finish. Full-bodied Syrah shoots out of the glass and punches you in the nose.

Ideal Pairing: Barbecue Pork. A bold wine like this can hold up to the intense flavors of slow-roasted barbecue pork. A great cut for this might be a pork shoulder where you’ll have a rich umami-driven piece of meat. Try spicing this type of meat with pepper and cumin to bring out the fruitiness in the wine. Another way is using Asian cuisine flavors, such as plum sauce, that will add to the fruitiness in the wine. (Vegetarian option: smoked seitan steaks)

How To Tell if Syrah is Warm Climate or Cool Climate

A quick tip for judging a wine by its label, when you can’t get any other information on it, is to look at the alcohol level. Warmer region Syrah tend to have alcohol levels from 14%+ whereas a cool climate Syrah is below 14% ABV.

Pairing with Full-bodied Red Wines Like Syrah

Food pairings taken from Food & Wine Pairing Method
In this image, you can see what types of proteins (Beef, Pork and Cured Meats) and preparation methods work best with full-bodied red wines.

  • Fat makes high tannin wines taste smoother
  • Umami flavors make wines taste fruitier
  • Grilled flavors match intensity of bolder wines
  • Choose vegetables with high umami factors and lower vegetable tannin (e.g. less stalks and leafs)

The Color of Syrah in a Wine Glass

Getting to know Syrah? Find out more about it.

Written byMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

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