Shiraz isn’t a wine for the faint-hearted. Big and bold flavours with an alcohol level to match, it's a variety loved for its vivacious personality. But does that make Shiraz a sweet wine or a dry wine?
Shiraz grows really well in hot climates and that sun encourages all of the alcohol and fruit flavours to develop in the grape. But lots of sun can also encourage ripe, sugary grapes.
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Is Shiraz a Sweet or Dry Wine?
Is Shiraz a sweet wine? Well seeing as the grape grows in hot, sunny climates that’s a good question to ask. Shiraz is a dry red wine.
It’s rich, it’s powerful and it’s got tannins, which all contribute to Shiraz having a super dry mouthfeel.
There’s little to no residual sugar found in most Shiraz wines.
But Shiraz, or Syrah as it is known in its home country France, isn’t the same universally.
Which means that in some cases, very rarely, Shiraz can make sweeter styles of wine.
But if Shiraz is predominantly used to make dark, punchy red wines, how can it make sweet wines, too?
What makes Shiraz sweet?
Why is Shiraz Sweet?
In some instances, just like Merlot, Shiraz can make very luscious, sweet, red wines.
These are often late-harvest wines and it’s this lateness of harvest that contributes to the wine being so sweet.
You see, the longer the grapes are left on the vine the more ripe they can become.
This can lead to a risk of grapes spoiling, so it’s a risky decision to make.
If Shiraz grapes are harvested later than usual, the grapes will have developed a lot more sugar than they would normally do.
This excess of sugar means that there is a greater chance of residual sugar being leftover once fermentation has completed.
Silky smooth and deliciously sweet red wines that taste like baked strawberry jam with hints of freshly cracked black pepper.
But what does a typical Shiraz taste like?
What Does Shiraz Taste Like?
It’s worth pointing out here that Shiraz is a grape with two names.
Shiraz is the New World term for Syrah, a red grape variety that originates in the Rhône region of France.
When the grape is grown elsewhere, commonly Australia, it is referred to as Shiraz. Syrah and Shiraz have different qualities depending on where they have been grown.
Shiraz, then, tends to taste of very dark fruit and rich, oaked spices.
Think juicy blueberries staining your fingers, the sharp snap of well made chocolate and the flecks of tobacco left over after a cigarette.
A powerful wine, indeed.
If you want to make sure you’re storing your Shiraz with the care it deserves, click here.
What are the Characteristics of Shiraz Wine?
Sweetness aside, what are the typical characteristics that make Shiraz such a popular and powerful wine?
- Alcohol Levels - Shiraz has some of the higher levels of alcohol for wine, typically between 13.5 - 16% ABV
- Sweetness Level - Shiraz makes dry, red wines. Sweet styles of Shiraz are very rare.
- Acidity Level - Shiraz has medium, red berry acidity, making it a very versatile and food friendly red.
- Tannin Level - Shiraz wines tend to have medium to high levels of tannins, which contribute to their dry mouthfeel.
- Body - Shiraz is as full bodied a wine as you can get, with lots of big and bold flavours to match.
So if Shiraz is well known for being dry, tannic and full-bodied, are there any types of sweet Shiraz out there?
Sweet Types of Shiraz Wine
There are very few sweet styles of Shiraz, so if you come across one, count yourself lucky.
If you want to seek out a style of sweet Shiraz look for late-harvest Shiraz wines. Chances are the extra time on the vine will mean extra sugar present in the bottle, giving lots of sweet, cooked dark fruit flavours. Perfect with chocolate.
Shiraz may be a dry variety, but how does it compare to other wines? Is Shiraz sweeter than a Malbec? Or is Shiraz as dry as it can get?
Is Shiraz Sweeter Than Malbec?
Both Shiraz and Malbec are red wines with lots of complexity, but is one sweeter than the other? Is Shiraz sweeter than Malbec?
Well, both Shiraz and Malbec are known for making very dry, red wines. We’re talking bone-dry here, so one variety doesn’t tend to be sweeter than the other.
Of course if you were to compare a late harvest Shiraz against a conventionally grown Malbec, then Shiraz would be sweeter than Malbec, which is why it’s always important to check the label. They're more than just a pretty picture.
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