Is Syrah a blend?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is Syrah a blend?

—Ellen, Tallahassee, Fla.

Dear Ellen,

Syrah is a grape. It's native to France, specifically the Rhône Valley and surrounding regions, but it's successfully grown in wine regions around the world. But once we start getting into the wines, it can get a little more complicated than that.

The term "Syrah" is also used to refer to wines made from the Syrah grape. And some wines made from the Syrah grape don’t actually say “Syrah” on the label. In Syrah's homeland, for instance, wines are typically labeled by their appellation, or winegrowing region. That requires you to do a little homework to know that reds from Northern Rhône wine regions like Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage or Cornas are made from Syrah (mostly, at least).

Syrah also goes by another name: Shiraz. Shiraz is most popularly used in Australia and South Africa, although you'll occasionally see it on bottlings from elsewhere, and it usually indicates that the wine is made in the classic Australian Shiraz style of big, bold and ripe Syrahs.

Finally, even if a bottle of wine is identified as a Syrah, it might still be a blend. Labeling laws vary but, for example, if you’re having a Syrah from California, the law allows for as much as 25 percent of the wine to be made from other grapes.

All that aside, if you're talking about wine and someone refers to “a Syrah,” they are referring to a wine made predominantly (if not entirely) from Syrah grapes.

—Dr. Vinny

Red Wines Syrah / Shiraz Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

How long will an unopened bottle of Champagne stay good?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how sparkling wine ages.

Jun 14, 2019

Are sulfites added to wines for shipping?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains where sulfites come from, and why wines often …

Jun 12, 2019

When is the best time to drink Port?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains which types of Ports are best served after a …

Jun 10, 2019

Is a 93-point wine from a good vintage the same quality as a 93-point wine from a poor vintage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how vintage is and is not considered when rating …

Jun 7, 2019

What is a wine’s "style"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the broad styles, or types, of wine, and what it …

Jun 5, 2019

Is yeast added to all wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains how commercial yeasts are used to make wine, and …

Jun 3, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search