QUESTION: What's the difference between Petite Syrah, Syrah, and Shiraz? Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. It tends to be labeled as Shiraz in Australia and Syrah in the rest of the world (remembering that in France it is more likely to have a geographic name such as St. Joseph or Cote Rotie). There are in fact different strains of Syrahs around the world and often in the same vineyard.
Summertime is the season of backyard barbecues and grilled steak. IntoWine.com asked our panel of wine experts to recommend a red wine to pair with that summertime staple, grilled steak: When I have a grilled steak , it’s a special occasion. The meat itself is a treat, so the wine doesn’t need to be anything complicated or expensive—just solid, red and balanced, with good body and acidity to stand up to the entree. A Bordeaux or one of the more balanced California Cabernets or Bordeaux blends always works well, as does a solid Merlot. The advantage of a Merlot is that it doesn’t need all the bottle age that most Cabs do to be food friendly. California Merlots also tend to be a good value, and some of my favorites, which are ideal with steak, come from A. Rafanelli, Castello di Amorosa, Darioush, Peju Province and Robert Keenan.
The Rhone Report: About Rhone and Rhone-Style Wines and Winemakers is part of an ongoing series. The classic red wines of the Northern Rhone Valley are some of the world’s greatest. Hermitage, Côte Rôtie and Cornas reds are the finest expressions of Syrah on earth. But the best of them have gotten to be very expensive, especially in American dollars. Recent vintages of Hermitage from Jean-Louis Chave are now more than $200 per bottle (and his scarce, top cuvee, Cathelin, is over $1,000). Guigal’s Côte Rôtie La Landonne, La Mouline and La Turque are nearly $250 per bottle, and even the Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blond bottling is over $75.
Have you booked your ticket home for the Holidays yet? If not, you might want to get on that. Have you bought Auntie Ingrid her extra special Christmas gift? If not, you should get on that too. And what will you be serving at that special family dinner? You know you’ve got a reputation to live up to, and they’re going to expect nothing less than a little known, concentrated, crowd pleaser. Mom has the turkey covered, and your sister knows her way around a mashed potato. But you’re in charge of the wine.