Course: Understanding Wine

Class 3: International Varieties


The Grape

Syrah is an adaptable grape that has done well in a variety of climates, from warm to cool.

Syrah prefers gravelly, well-drained soil and good sun exposure. In some areas of France the vineyards are nothing but rocks, which absorb heat during the day and radiate it back at night.


The Wine

Syrahs tend to have moderate acidity and flavors of raspberry, blackberry and plum, and sometimes smoke, bacon, spice and anise notes.

It is a more intense, full-bodied varietal than Pinot Noir, in weight often comparable to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Much of it is made to be drunk early, but some Syrahs can age well.



Northern Rhône Valley, France

Syrah is at home in the precipitous hillside vineyards rising above northern sections...
Ready to enroll? First, you must register for a membership to Your membership benefits include:

FREE enrollment in any course at Wine Spectator School

Over 230,000 searchable ratings and tasting notes

FREE mobile access so you can research wines wherever you are

E-newsletters with advance ratings

Editors’ blogs

Food and wine matching tool

And much more

Log In If You're Already a Member

Please log in using your email address and password for Wine Spectator School students who enrolled before 7.4.10, log in with your email address and school password or get more info here.

Forgot Password?

By clicking "Log in" you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Wine Spectator Online

Read our FAQ for more information

If you have questions about Wine Spectator School, please contact us.


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences