It is often hard to make clear distinctions between wines. The flavor each grape produces in the bottle varies immensely. You can drink a bottle of a certain type of grape, such as Merlot, and enjoy it. Then try another bottle and it tastes completely different.
This makes it difficult to always be sure what grape you are drinking. The color changes are so subtle. The flavor profiles vary so much. The smell and viscosity are always different. Every region provides different conditions to each grape, that vary every year. This creates endless potential variations of each vintage of wine.
This is why it is important to break down the main differences where we can. In this piece, we will be examining what is the darkest red wine, Syrah or Shiraz, and why.
What is the difference between Syrah and Shiraz?
Essentially, there is no difference between the two. When the Syrah grape was brought down to Australia, it was mispronounced. Brought down initially by Scottish viticulturist James Busby, it has become a staple of the Australian wine scene.
They are both some of the darkest red wines on the market today. However, it has become more for marketing purposes. Labels will advertise as Syrah if they want it to seem more esteemed and ‘old world’. Conversely, they will label it Shiraz to make it seem a newer product.
Slight differences have developed over time. Shiraz tends to be slightly more fruit-forward, and Syrah is slightly more savory in flavor. Typically though, Shiraz wines are labeled as such if they are grown in a warm climate and Syrah in cold climates.
The appearance of Shiraz vs Syrah
We have outlined that they are the same, aside from different growing conditions. We can now analyze what is the darkest red wine.
Warmer climate grapes typically have a deeper, earthier flavor and darker look to them. This is due to the thicker skin that grows around the grape in these conditions. However, colder condition grown grapes ripen more slowly. Creating a complex and deep color.
Syrahs’ hail from Europe in origin, with its spiritual home in France. Particularly famous in the Rhône region, it is one of the richest wines in the area. Originating in Australia, Shiraz is produced with distinction in Argentina, Napa and South Africa.
It is hard to discern here which is the darkest red wine. It might seem, due to the more earthy notes of Shiraz, that it is darker. However, that would largely be a placebo.
Potential pairings for Syrah and Shiraz
The most common pairing for the two is red meat. The wine really holds up against the richness and density of flavor in red meat. Furthermore, it is often paired with roasts or a cheese course.
These are commonly recommended, and work very well. However, after identifying the subtle differences between the two, we can provide more nuanced pairings.
Syrahs, like those grown in the Sonoma or Rhône region, pair really nicely with white meat and truffle. The pepperiness combines with the natural oils of truffles, providing a herbaceous and rich balance.
Shirazes maintain the course for rich and deep foods. Cream-based dishes would pair wonderfully. Being both smooth and savory, they pair wonderfully with the peppery, fruity wine.
Growing with age
When analyzing what is the darkest wine, it is important to highlight some of the other variables in this process. Generally, the longer wine is aged for, the darker it becomes. It is impossible to say what is the darkest red wine, but it will certainly be an older vintage.
The aging process of wine revolves around a few of its key components: alcohol, phenolic and flavor compounds, and a variety of acids. When aged in the bottle, it is constantly undergoing changes.
Water, phenolics, glycosides, and more, connect and disband. They then proceed to reconnect in different ways. This process is continuous and never stops until the wine is consumed.
When Syrah and Shiraz wines are aged, they become some of the darkest red wines available.
Darkest Red Wine
Giving a blanket statement about what is the darkest red wine is hard without being specific. We have revealed that these wines are some of the more similar in the wine world. We can be confident in saying that Shiraz and Syrah, on average, are some of the darkest red wines available.
However, we have to be careful when making statements like these. As stated before, an aged cabernet will be a darker color than a new Shiraz.
If we were going to hand-select all the properties for the darkest red wine, it would be as follows: a warm-weather Shiraz, aged for over 5 years.
Further observations show that Syrah can discolor with age. It loses its concentration and pigment while taking on garnet tones.