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The ultimate guide to Australian Shiraz wine

We delve into the history and popularity of this ever favourite red wine.

By Natasha Heard  |  November 5, 2021
red wine

A spicy, warm-hearted red; gloriously rich, with flavours of berries, chocolate and black pepper – we’re talking Australian Shiraz, the intense red wine that please the palates of wine-lovers across the globe.

A full-bodied wine with a high alcohol content, Australian Shiraz offers vibrant berry and plum on both the nose and palate, while offering a velvety mouthfeel and a slightly sweet finish. Robust and spicy, the popularity of this varietal is due to Australia’s hot summers and mild winters, which conveys a complexity and structure that is attractive to both avid wine enthusiasts and regular wine drinkers alike.

Known as Syrah (meaning princess in Arabic) in France, the grape variety promises much intensity, with French styles most notably grown in the Rhone Valley producing a more herby, smoky taste. Australian Shiraz wines, however, prove to be richer and softer with a more chocolatey and sometimes leathery quality – according to wine guru Oz Clarke. He points out that wine styles can vary across the large country, with wines from the Victoria region proving to be more scented and peppery versus more leathery and chocolatey versions in Barossa Valley.  

red wine
Australian Shiraz is an intense red wine that please the palates of wine-lovers across the globe.

It may come as no surprise that Australia produces more Shiraz than any other New World country. More than 200 million litres of Australian Shiraz was exported each year for the last five years with its value having steadily increased over time, too, proving just how prevalent our appreciation for the tipple is.  

South Australia itself makes more wine than any other state in the sprawling country, and the standards are high here. You can expect to find a range of top-quality wines to choose from across a number of locations including Barossa, Eden and Clare Valleys, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale and Limestone Coast. That’s not to say that other regions aren’t producing fantastic Shiraz wines, though, with New South Wales’ Hunter Valley and Queensland’s south-eastern corner crafting some delectable versions, too.

What foods should you pair with Australian Shiraz?

While some wines are perfect for sipping on over a movie, a good read or while chatting with friends, others are best paired with some delectable food that serve to elevate both elements. Shiraz can stand up alongside some strong flavours and is typically best enjoyed with flavourful cheeses, barbecued food and meats, spicy foods, steak, and Mediterranean and Latin cuisines.

With a wine that is so flavoursome, high in acidity and full-bodied, it is best to avoid pairing with more subtly flavoured or delicate foods as the wine can prove to be overpowering. Avoid lighter proteins and seafood that isn’t spiced and stick to beef, lamb, and game.

red wine food
Shiraz can stand up alongside some strong flavours and is typically best enjoyed with flavourful cheeses, barbecued food and meats, spicy foods, steak, and Mediterranean and Latin cuisines

What Australian Shiraz’s should you sip on?

If you’re looking to further expand on your knowledge of Australian Shiraz or you would like to discover some new options for your wine cabinet, then the best place to start is with a trusted supplier, who has taken the effort out of choosing for you. 8wines is one such company who has put together a selection of tasting cases for different varietals, and their Australian Shiraz premium tasting case offers a great place to start.

Containing six bottles of highly rated wines, all of which hail from South Australia, this case contains a succulent selection on Shiraz’s to sip on.

Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz 2018

The Glaetzer family first arrived in the Barossa Valley in 1888 from Germany and are some of the first recorded grape growers in Barossa and the Clare Valley. With this level of history and expertise and with grapes sourced from 30–120-year-old vines, this wine promises a lot and delivers. Drink now with hearty red meat dishes or save for up to a decade.

D’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2017

With a winery established over 100 years ago boasting vines planted in the 1880s, this flagship Shiraz is made using low yielding old vines, which are harvested in small parcels and vinified plot by plot to give maximum control over the blending. This is an age worthy wine with firm tannins and a well-developed structure, it can be stored in the cellar for another decade or so or can be enjoyed now with hearty red meat dishes.   

McClaren Vale vineyard
You can expect to find a range of top-quality wines to choose from across a number of locations including McLaren Vale

Longview The Piece Shiraz 2016

An iconic wine from this estate, Longview’s Shiraz is crafted from hand-picked bunches from the finest rows of vines. Fermenting as whole bunches in open top fermenters and maturing in French oak barrels adds complexity and results in robust, full-bodied wines bursting with ripe damsons, blueberries and crushed cherries. 

Yangarra Shiraz 2018

This organic and biodynamic certified estate uses grapes sourced from 20-year-old vines for this Shiraz. Expect dense, lusciously rich dark fruit on the nose, winter spice, toast and savoury herbs to follow and ripe fruit flavours on the tongue with a long, spiced finish.

Claymore Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz 2019

This boutique winery founded in 1997 boasts five premium vineyards situated on the Clare Valley’s best terroir. This Shiraz matures in a combination of French and American oak barrels and boasts blueberry, dark cherry and plum on the nose and blackberry, cassis and crushed wild berries on the palate. 

First Drop Mother’s Milk Shiraz 2018

Crafted from fruit from three vineyards in the Barossa Valley with 12 months of ageing in French oak hogshead barrels, this is a rich and juicy Shiraz bursting with flavour. Blackberries, wild plums and cassis with undertones of dried herbs, dark chocolate, spice and sun-baked earth make this a wine that can be enjoyed now or after a few more years in the cellar.