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Syrah

“Sear-ah” (aka Shiraz)


 Taste: Blueberry, plum, tobacco, meat, black pepper, violet
 Style: Full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz) is a full-bodied red wine that’s heavily planted in the Rhône Valley in France and Australia. The wines have intense fruit flavors and middleweight tannins. Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to create the red Rhône blend. The wine often has an aggressively meaty (beef broth, jerky) quality.
 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats; Mediterranean, French, and American firm cheeses like white cheddar, and hard cheeses like Manchego

Syrah Alternatives

Malbec: (Argentina) More black-fruited, often with more aggressive oak usage, less meaty, but with more coffee and chocolate flavors
Petit Sirah: (United States) This grape has no genetic relation to Syrah, but has even more aggressive tannin, acid, and fuller body
Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre): More broad texture, with similar meaty notes, but more of a mixture of red and black fruits
Pinotage: (South Africa) Similar in terms of body, with even more intense, smokey notes.

[Syrah wine in a glass with taste profile and pronunciation]

Zinfandel

“Zin-fan-dell”

 Taste: A broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry), Asian 5 Spice Powder, Sweet Tobacco
 Style: Medium-bodied to full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Croatia. Wines are fruit-forward and spicy with a medium length finish. Zinfandel is a red grape that may be better known as the rosé wine White Zinfandel.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, cured meat, lamb, beef, barbecue, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, full-flavored like cheddar and firm cheeses such as Manchego

Zinfandel Alternatives

Grenache (aka Garnacha): More middle-weight and red-fruited flavors, with the meaty and peppery qualities you get with Syrah
Tempranillo: (Spain) More red and black fruit flavors, as well as lower alcohol and body
Rhône Blend: a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre originally from Rhône Valley of France, very similar, but not as fruity
Carignan: Not quite as exotic in terms of fruit, but adds a lot of savory, dried herbal flavors

[Zinfandel wine in a glass with taste profile and pronunciation]

Pinot Noir

“Pee-no Nwar”


 Taste: Very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose), often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom
 Style: Lighter-bodied Red Wine with higher acid and soft tannin
 Description: Pinot Noir is a dry light-bodied first widely planted in France. The wines always lead with higher acid and soft tannins.
 Food Pairing: chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, French, German, cream sauces, soft cheeses, nutty medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère

Pinot Noir Alternatives

Gamay (aka Beaujolais): (France) Lighter, juicier, more floral, generally less complex

Cabernet Sauvignon

“Cab-er-nay Saw-vin-yawn”

 Taste: Black Cherry, Black Currant, Baking Spices and Cedar (from oak)
 Style: Full-bodied Red Wine
 Description: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red grape first heavily planted in the Bordeaux region. Today, it’s the most popular wine variety in the world. Wines are full-bodied with bold tannins and a long persistent finish driven mostly by the higher levels of alcohol and tannin that often accompany these wines.
 Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats, French, American, firm cheeses like aged cheddar and hard cheeses like Pecorino

Cabernet Sauvignon Alternatives

Merlot: Middle weight, lower in tannins (smoother), with a more red-fruited flavor profile
Cabernet Franc:  Light to middle weight, with higher acid and more savory flavors, one of Cabernet Sauvignon’s parent grapes.
Carménère: Usually from Chile, very similar to Merlot in body, but with the aggressive savory flavors of Cabernet Franc
Bordeaux Blend, A.K.A. “Meritage”: Usually dominant to Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, but also includes any of the other Bordeaux varieties
Sangiovese: The noble grape of Tuscany. Similar in body, acid, and tannin to Cabernet Sauvignon, but more red-fruited and elegant