Syrah / Shiraz

  (seh-RAH) / (cher-RAHZ)
Synonyms: Syrah, Shiraz, Petite Syrah (in northern Rhône but not to be confused with Petit Sirah of California), Antourenein Noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hignin Noir, Marsanne Noir, Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Serine, Sereine

Wine Name: Syrah, Shiraz, and specific northern Rhone red wine names

Background: Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. Its home has been in southern France where it is made into a varietal wine in the northern Rhône area. There, the wines are 100% Syrah and will have blackberry fruity flavor with notes of black pepper and sometimes mint. It will be medium to full bodied with strong tannins. In the southern Rhône area it is blended with other Mediterranean grapes into Cote d’ Rhône and Châteauneuf Du Pape wines. Australia, however, now produces the most Syrah which they call Shiraz. In the Barossa Valley of Australia, Shiraz wines will be black currant and black cherry fruit flavored, full-bodied and creamy with smooth tannins and a dark chocolate finish. From the Clare Valley in Australia there may be a milk chocolate finish. Tar, smoke and spice are often noticeable elements. Good California Syrahs may have a little more red fruit flavors such as raspberry and cherry along with black plum, currants, and white pepper and spice flavors. Washington State, especially from the Walla Walla Valley, is currently producing some of the highest rated Syrahs.

Classic Brands and Sources: Many Australian producers especially from Barossa or Clare Valley; USA – Cline, Colgin, Jade Mountain, Joseph Phelps, Sine Qua Non, Qupe, Cayuse, K, Reynvaan, Charles Smith; France – Chapoutier, Delas Frères, Guigal, Alain Grailot, Jaboulet, Réne Rostaing

Characteristics:

Style #1 – Northern Rhône

Body – medium (+)

Acidity – medium (+)

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – high

Style #2 – warm climate
(Australia, California, Washington State)

Body – full

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs with a wide range of slightly acidic to savory full bodied dishes.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
eef, lamb, game, chicken, turkey, veal or pork grilled, roasted or braised, barbeque, chili, hamburgers, meatloaf, sausages, mushrooms, cheese based pasta, risotto.

Cheese Pairings:
Mild Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda

Super Tuscan Blends

 
Synonyms: See the many different wine names below.

Wine Name: Various names including Flaccianello, Sassicaia, Guidalberto, Le Difese, Guado al Tasso, Messorio, Tignanello, Vigorello, Ornellaia, Solaia

Background: A collective term for many different blends from Tuscany that may not fit within the Italian DOCG rules governing the labels of wines. Often they fall into the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) when in fact by quality, they belong in the higher quality DOCG or DOC designation. Most of the time these wines are blends of Sangiovese or other Italian grapes with non-Italian grapes such as Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon and made using the tradtional French methods of using small oak barrells (barriques) rather than the larger used wood bottis that Italian rules call for.

The best producers seem to be using Sangiovese alone, Sangiovese plus Merlot, or traditional Bordeaux blends with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

Classic Brands and Sources: Fontodi, Tenuta San Guido, Villa Antinori, Le Macchiole, San Felice, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia,

Characteristics:

 

Style #1 – typicalBody – full

Acidity – medium (+)

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+) to high

 

Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Generally these wines pair with full-bodied slightly acidic to acidic dishes and foods

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Olives, tomato-based pasta, roasted meats and game, beef steaks, chicken in wine sauce, mushrooms, pancetta, prosciutto, pizza , smoked meat, cold cuts, salami

Cheese Pairings:
Asiago, Bel Paese, Fontina, Grana, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino, Provolone, Romano, Taleggio

Appetizer Pairings:

See Appetizers for Super Tuscan Blends

Pinotage

  (Pee-no-TAWJE)
Synonyms: None

Wine Name: Pinotage

Background: Pinotage is a South African grape developed in 1925 as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It does not have much of the aromas or flavors of its parents but rather comes across as ripe plum and blackberry fruit with undertones of campfire and earthiness. It responds to oak aging well but is also made in a lighter, unoaked style. It can be a difficult grape to make into wine resulting in some styles having harsh tannins and/or unusual mineral spirits tastes. Recently winemakers have had better success in making Pinotage as a fine, ageable wine.

Classic Brands and Sources: Graham Beck, Claridge, DeWaal, Robertson, Spice Route, Warwick

Characteristics:

Style #1 – typical

Body – full

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+)


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well meats that are roasted or smoked and dishes with hearty sauces slightly acidic

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Beef, lamb, game, chicken, turkey, veal or pork grilled, roasted or smoked, barbeque, chili, cold cuts, hamburgers, meatloaf, sausages, mushrooms, risotto

Cheese Pairings:
Mild, medium or smoked Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

Primitivo

  (pri-meh-TEE-voh)
Synonyms: Zinfandel (ZIHN-fuhn-dehl), Primitivo, Crljenak (tsoorl-YEN-ak) kastelansk, Tribidrag, Pribidrag, Kratosija

Wine Name: Zinfandel, Primitivo, White Zinfandel (Rosé that is off dry)

Background: Zinfandel grapes originally came from Croatia by way of Italy and was brought by immigrants to California where they have come to prominence for decades. Italian grapes are called Primitivo (pri-meh-TEE-voh) and the Croatian parent grape, Crljenak (tsoorl-YEN-ak).

In warm climates such as California, Zinfandel tends to produce fruity raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, and black cherry aromas with those same tastes. It may have subtle spices such as cinnamon, black pepper and licorice especially if they are from old vine field mixtures of clones. Usually the wines are medium-bodied, with light to medium tannins, but they can be high in alcohol. Zinfandel is a very versatile grape although its youngest wines tend to be the best. It can be made into a blush or rosé wine (White Zinfandel) that is fruity, easy drinking jug wine, a great dessert wine from raisinated grapes and a full-bodied, oaked wine with soft tannins.

Classic Brands and Sources: California – Ridge, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, J Rickard, A Rafanelli, Dry Creek and many California producers; Australia – Cape Mentelle, Kangarilla Road, Nepenthe; Italy – A Mano, Accademia dei Racemi, Masseria Pepe, Torrevento

Characteristics:

Style #1 – light, fruityBody – medium

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – dry but fruity

Tannins – medium

Style #2 – full-bodied, alcohol > 14%, oakedBody – full

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium

Style #3 – Rosé (off dry)
(White Zinfandel)Body – medium (-)

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – off dry, slightly sweet

Tannins – medium (-)

 

Wine and food pairing guidelines:

Light, fruity style – Pairs with chicken, pork, veal and beef with acidic sauces as barbeque that does not have too much capsacian hot spices.

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – Alcohol levels over 14.5% generally do not pair well with foods. With lower alcohol levels, pair with lamb and beef with medium acid or wine sauces.

White Zinfandel style – Pairs with spicy barbecue, Mexican dishes with hot peppers, Thai cuisine and sweet dishes.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:

Light, fruity style – barbecue chicken and pork, sausages, pizza, hamburgers, meat loaf

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – lamb and beef roasts and steaks with wine sauce or balsamic reductions

White Zinfandel style – Thai Red Curries, Chile Relenos, Hot salsa dips

Cheese Pairings:

Light, fruity style – Brie with rind, Camembert with rind, Cantal, cheddar (aged), goat’s cheese, Emmental, Feta, Morbier, Muenster, Raclette, Vacherin, Vermont Shepherd

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – Mild Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

White Zinfandel style – Cream cheese, Mascarpone, Neufachatel, Boursin, Swiss, Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano

Appetizer Pairings: See also Appetizer Pairings for Cabernet Franc/Zinfandel/Primitivo

Zinfandel

  (ZIHN-fuhn-dehl)
Synonyms: Zinfandel, Primitivo (pri-meh-TEE-voh), Crljenak (tsoorl-YEN-ak) kastelansk, Tribidrag, Pribidrag, Kratosija

Wine Name: Zinfandel, Primitivo, White Zinfandel (Rosé that is off dry)

Background: Zinfandel grapes originally came from Croatia by way of Italy and was brought by immigrants to California where they have come to prominence for decades. Italian grapes are called Primitivo (pri-meh-TEE-voh) and the Croatian parent grape, Crljenak (tsoorl-YEN-ak).

In warm climates such as California, Zinfandel tends to produce fruity raspberry, blackberry, boysenberry, cranberry, and black cherry aromas with those same tastes. It may have subtle spices such as cinnamon, black pepper and licorice especially if they are from old vine field mixtures of clones. Usually the wines are medium-bodied, with light to medium tannins, but they can be high in alcohol. Zinfandel is a very versatile grape although its youngest wines tend to be the best. It can be made into a blush or rosé wine (White Zinfandel) that is fruity, easy drinking jug wine, a great dessert wine from raisinated grapes and a full-bodied, oaked wine with soft tannins.

Classic Brands and Sources: California – Ridge, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, J Rickard, A Rafanelli, Dry Creek and many California producers; Australia – Cape Mentelle, Kangarilla Road, Nepenthe; Italy – A Mano, Accademia dei Racemi, Masseria Pepe, Torrevento

Characteristics:

Style #1 – light, fruityBody – medium

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – dry but fruity

Tannins – medium

Style #2 – full-bodied, alcohol > 14%, oakedBody – full

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium

Style #3 – Rosé (off dry)
(White Zinfandel)Body – medium (-)

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – off dry, slightly sweet

Tannins – medium (-)

 

Wine and food pairing guidelines:

Light, fruity style – Pairs with chicken, pork, veal and beef with acidic sauces as barbeque that does not have too much capsacian hot spices.

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – Alcohol levels over 14.5% generally do not pair well with foods. With lower alcohol levels, pair with lamb and beef with medium acid or wine sauces.

White Zinfandel style – Pairs with spicy barbecue, Mexican dishes with hot peppers, Thai cuisine and sweet dishes.

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:

Light, fruity style – barbecue chicken and pork, sausages, pizza, hamburgers, meat loaf

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – lamb and beef roasts and steaks with wine sauce or balsamic reductions

White Zinfandel style – Thai Red Curries, Chile Relenos, Hot salsa dips

Cheese Pairings:

Light, fruity style – Brie with rind, Camembert with rind, Cantal, cheddar (aged), goat’s cheese, Emmental, Feta, Morbier, Muenster, Raclette, Vacherin, Vermont Shepherd

Full bodied, higher alcohol style – Mild Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

White Zinfandel style – Cream cheese, Mascarpone, Neufachatel, Boursin, Swiss, Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano

Appetizer Pairings:  See Appetizer Pairings for Cabernet Franc/Zinfandel/Primitivo

Petit Sirah

  (peh-TEAT sear-RAH)
Synonyms: Durif, Petite Syrah (but not the same as Petite Syrah in northern Rhône)

Wine Name: Durif, Petit Sirah, Petite Sirah, Petite Syrah (again, not the same as Petite Syrah in northern Rhône)

Background: Petit Sirah is almost exclusively a California grape although originally it was from France. It produces deep purple, tannic wines that have a savory almost meaty character. Traditionally it has been used as a blending grape for Zinfandel based wines to add earthiness and color, but it can be made as a varietal on its own as well. It is sometimes confused with Durif and its parents, Syrah and Peloursin. This is often a very pleasant, undervalued wine.

Classic Brands and Sources: Robert Biale, Bogle, Chiarello Family, Concannon, Coppola, Greg Norman, J Rickard

Characteristics:

Style #1 – typical

Body – full

Acidity – medium

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+)


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well meats that are roasted or smoked and dishes with hearty sauces slightly acidic

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Beef, lamb, game, chicken, turkey, veal or pork grilled, roasted or smoked, barbeque, chili, cold cuts, hamburgers, meatloaf, Mexican food, sausages, mushrooms, cheese based pasta, risotto

Cheese Pairings:
Mild, medium or smoked Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

Nero d’ Avola

  (NEE-roe dee AH-vole-ah)
Synonyms: Calabrese Nero

Wine Name: Nero d’ Avola

Background: A black grape from the southern tip of Sicily which produces dark acidic wines with soft tannins, and plum and peppery flavors. Until recently, Nero d’ Avola was primarily commercially used to fortify weaker red wines in France and northern Italy. With its herbal and cherry scents and tastes of black cherry and blackberry fruit flavors, it is often likened to Australian Shiraz.

Classic Brands and Sources: Abbazia Santa Anastasia, Calatrasi, Cusumano, Donna Fugata, Morgante, Planeta, Duca di Salaparuta, Spadafora, Tasca di Almerita

Characteristics:

Style #1 – full

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Best with heavier dishes with acidic sauces or marinades as well as roasted meats

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Pairs with heavier fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, veal, beef, eggplant and pasta that have spicy, full-bodied acidic sauces or sauces with capers or olives.

Cheese Pairings:
Sheep’s milk cheeses, Cheddar, Fontina, Gruyere, Livarot, Muenster, Raclette

Monastrell

  Monastrell (Spanish)/Mourvèdre (French)
(moe-nah-STRELL)/(moor-VED’rr)

Synonyms: Alcallata, Alcayata, Alicante, Arach Sap, Balzac, Balzar, Benadu, Beneda, Beni Carlo, Berardi, Bod, Bon Avis, Buona Vise, Casca, Catalan, Cayata, Caymilari Sarda, Charnet, Churret, Damas Noir, Drug, English Colossal, Espagnen, Espar, Esparte, Estrangle-chien, Flouron, Flouroux, Garrut, Gayata Tinta, Karis, Maneschaou, Marseillais, Mataró, Maurostel, Mechin, Monastre, Monastrell Menudo, Monastrell Verdadero, Mourvedre, Mourvegue, Mourves, Murvedr Espar, Negralejo, Negria, Neyron, Pinot Fleri, Plant De Ledenon, Plant De Saint Gilles, Reina, Ros, Rossola Nera, Spar, Tintilla, Tire Droit, Torrentes, Trinchiera, Valcarcelia, Verema, Veremeta, Vereneta

Wine Name: Mourvèdre, Monastrell, and in Rhône blends, in Australia – GSM blends and blends from the Spanish regions of Almansa, Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla

Background: Mourvèdre has tradtionally be a blending grape mostly for southern Rhône red blends as well as Spanish red blends from Jumilla, Valencia and Alicante. It adds a deep purple color and and earthiness with spice to Grenache and Syrah wines. The grape has moderate tannins and sometimes show a gamey taste. It is showing up as a pure varietal wine recently especially from Jumilla, Cline in California and from Australia.

Classic Brands and Sources: Château Beaucastle, d’Esclans, Domaine Tempier, Domaine Ray Jane (France); Bonney Doon, Cline, Qupé, Ridge (U.S.); D’Arenberg, Penfolds, Pikes, Rosemont, Torbeck, Yalumba (Australian)

Characteristics:

 

Style #1 – typical varietal

Body – full

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+) to high

 

 

Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well meats that are roasted or smoked and dishes with hearty sauces slightly acidic

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Beef, lamb, game, veal or pork grilled, roasted or smoked, barbeque, chili, cold cuts, hamburgers, meatloaf, sausages, mushrooms, cheese based pasta, risotto, truffle oil

Cheese Pairings:
Mild, medium or smoked Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

Mourvèdre

  Mourvèdre (French)/Monastrell (Spanish)
(moor-VED’rr)/(moe-nah-STRELL)

Synonyms: Alcallata, Alcayata, Alicante, Arach Sap, Balzac, Balzar, Benadu, Beneda, Beni Carlo, Berardi, Bod, Bon Avis, Buona Vise, Casca, Catalan, Cayata, Caymilari Sarda, Charnet, Churret, Damas Noir, Drug, English Colossal, Espagnen, Espar, Esparte, Estrangle-chien, Flouron, Flouroux, Garrut, Gayata Tinta, Karis, Maneschaou, Marseillais, Mataró, Maurostel, Mechin, Monastre, Monastrell Menudo, Monastrell Verdadero, Mourvedre, Mourvegue, Mourves, Murvedr Espar, Negralejo, Negria, Neyron, Pinot Fleri, Plant De Ledenon, Plant De Saint Gilles, Reina, Ros, Rossola Nera, Spar, Tintilla, Tire Droit, Torrentes, Trinchiera, Valcarcelia, Verema, Veremeta, Vereneta

Wine Name: Mourvèdre, Monastrell, and in Rhône blends, in Australia – GSM blends and blends from the Spanish regions of Almansa, Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, and Yecla

Background: Mourvèdre has tradtionally be a blending grape mostly for southern Rhône red blends as well as Spanish red blends from Jumilla, Valencia and Alicante. It adds a deep purple color and and earthiness with spice to Grenache and Syrah wines. The grape has moderate tannins and sometimes show a gamey taste. It is showing up as a pure varietal wine recently especially from Jumilla, Cline in California and from Australia.

Classic Brands and Sources: Château Beaucastle, d’Esclans, Domaine Tempier, Domaine Ray Jane (France); Bonney Doon, Cline, Qupé, Ridge (U.S.); D’Arenberg, Penfolds, Pikes, Rosemont, Torbeck, Yalumba (Australian)

Characteristics:

Style #1 – typical varietal

Body – full

Acidity – high

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+) to high

 

 

Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well meats that are roasted or smoked and dishes with hearty sauces slightly acidic

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:
Beef, lamb, game, veal or pork grilled, roasted or smoked, barbeque, chili, cold cuts, hamburgers, meatloaf, sausages, mushrooms, cheese based pasta, risotto, truffle oil

Cheese Pairings:
Mild, medium or smoked Cheddar, Edam, Glouchester, Manchego, Muenster, Provolone (aged), Parmesan, Pecorino, Roncal, Smoked Gouda.

Merlot

  (mare-LOW)
Synonyms: Merlot, Merlot Noir, Médoc Noir

Wine Name: Merlot, Red Bordeaux (St Saint-Émilion, Pommerol, Fronsac, right bank Merlot dominant) many producer names

Background: Merlot was traditionally a blending grape for Bordeaux wines in France and other places. It is softer and fruitier than Cabernet Sauvignon and came to prominence after the 1991 Sixty Minutes television show titled “The French Paradox.” Less experienced wine drinkers rushed to this softer, milder red wine as its own varietal for health reasons. The 2006 movie “Sideways” tried to tarnish Merlot’s reputation as the number one red wine varietal consumed in the United States but it still reigns strong. One of the most expensive wines in the world, Château Petrus, produced in Bordeaux France is 100% Merlot grape so it can be a great wine. In cool climates Merlot may have some leafy, green pepper aromas but when produced in temperate or warm climates it usually tastes of blackberry and plum fruit with soft, velvety tannins and not very acidic.

Classic Brands and Sources: France – many Bordeaux producers; USA – Clos Du Bois, Chateau St Jean, Duckhorn, Merryvale, Newton, J Lohr, Pahlmeyer, Paloma , Shafer, Sterling, Chateau St Michelle, Barefoot; Chile – Casa Lapastole, Santa Rita, Viña Casablanca

Characteristics:

Style #1 – Right Bank Bordeaux

Body – medium (+)

Acidity – medium (-)

Sweetness – dry

Tannins – medium (+)

Style #2 – warm climate , New World

Body – full

Acidity – low

Sweetness – dry but fruity

Tannins – medium (-) to medium


Wine and food pairing guidelines:
Pairs well with savory, low acid dishes

Foods and Entrees that usually pair:

Beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, veal or pork grilled, roasted or braised, chili, hamburgers, meat loaf, mushrooms, cheese based pasta, risotto

Cheese Pairings:
Brie and Camembert without rind, mild Cheddar, Emmental, Gouda, smoked Gouda, Gorganzola, Manchego, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Pecorino, Provolone, Romano