What to Drink Now: Australian Shiraz

Match Play

Pairing Australian Shiraz with Grilled Food

Photo by Terry Brennan

Different styles of Shiraz can be made from the same region, depending on the vineyards and the winery, but there are some clues on the label that can help you match what you’re drinking with what you’re grilling.

Old Vines.

Aussies are proud of their ancient Shiraz vines–often 50 to 100 years old–and like to put “Old Vines†on the label. This usually indicates the wines will be big and rich, suitable for serving with robust meats and creamy sauces.

Hot or Cold Climate.

Barossa is one of Australia’s hottest regions, so the wines from this region are generally high in alcohol and very tannic–great for strip steaks served rare. Cool-weather Shirazes from regions such as Clare Valley or Heathcote often are more savory or spicy, tastes that go well with meats spiced with lots of rosemary and black pepper. Alcohol under 14% is often an indication of a cool-weather Shiraz.

Viognier Blends.

Quite a few Shirazes indicate on their labels they have been blended with small amounts of the white grape Viognier to add fragrance and elegance–a great combo for grilled salmon and meats with fruit sauces.

Generic appellations.

Not every Shiraz comes from 100-year-old Barossa vines or sports the high prices that go with them. Just grilling hamburgers and hot dogs? There are loads of tasty Shirazes for under $12 gathered from larger, generic appellations such as Western Australia or Southeast Australia.

– Roger Morris