American Syrah/Shiraz - Chardonnay's Hot Red Sister

Syrah from California is turning heads recently. Bored and broke from unwhelming $25 Napa Cabernets, people have found a red that’s bold, rich and almost always tasty… and cheap! Given all these great qualities, if you are a red drinker, how can you say no?

I think that American Syrah is a lot like Chardonnay. Just like Chardonnay, it offers the winemaker a great starting point to tinker with flavor. Age it in some new oak barrels and you get smokey/vanilla flavors that are create a smooth drink-alone wine. Pull back on the oak and focus on the nice acidity balance and you get a great wine to pair with most meats. I am drinking some right now with my slightly spicy General Tso’s Chicken and it’s fantastic!

Also, just like Chardonnay, it’s never going to be a subtle wine. Syrah needs heat to ripen and it thrives in places like the Central Coast of California. All this intense sun exposure makes for a ripe wine. Don’t look too hard for flavors like slate or cinnamon. If they are there, they get overpowered by the burst of fresh fruit flavors like cherries, raspberries and blackberries.

This week, 2 Guys Uncorked found three Syrahs at Trader Joe’s that were super-affordable ($4-$6). You should definitely check them out!

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