Ultimate Petite Sirah Food Pairing Guide [+20 Pairings]
Petite Sirah, also known as Durif and Petite Syrah, is a cleverly named misnomer of a wine if there ever was one.
Petite Syrah’s plush dark fruit and chocolate flavor, combined with its rich tannic structure, make it an irresistible wine best suited for your most flavorful dishes.
This guide covers everything you need to know about making the perfect Petite Sirah pairing.
We cover tasting notes, regional differences, and pairing tips, then finish with some excellent food pairing recommendations.
What Does Petite Sirah Taste Like?
Before discussing which foods to pair with Petite Sirah, it’s helpful to go over what Petite Sirah tastes like and how its regional differences affect flavor.
Petite Sirah is a full-bodied red wine with high tannins, high alcohol, and moderate acidity. It is made from the Durif grape, invented in the 1800s by a French botanist of the same name. It is the cross between the Syrah grape and an obscure grape that is rarely seen today, Peloursin.
The Durif grape is small, tightly clustered, and mildew resistant. Its high skin-to-juice ratio gives it high tannins and rich flavor.
This grape grew in popularity in California due to its success in California’s warm and dry climate, where it began as an addition to cheap and affordable field blends. Oak aging is typical and aids in rounding out harsh tannins.
Petite Sirah can be expected to have blackberry, blueberry, chocolate, dark plum, and black pepper flavors.
Californian Petite Sirah
Despite its French origins, Petite Sirah has had rapid success in California. As previously mentioned, its mildew resistance and high skin-to-juice ratio make for easy-growing and flavorful wines.
That said, it’s unclear how much of the Petite Sirah in California is actually made from 100% Durif grapes. Due to its beginnings as a field blend, it’s likely the Petite Sirah we know in California is a blend with other grapes, including Zinfandel, Syrah, and Rhône varietals.
Petite Sirah grown inland - like in Lodi Valley - tend to make for warmer and more fruit-forward wines. Flavors of bramble, blueberry, and jam dominate the palate and are supported by plush tannins.
In the coastal climates of California - like in Sonoma - Petite Sirah tends to be cooler with more earth and coffee flavors.
Australian Petite Sirah
While California produces the most Petite Sirah, Australia is second and makes notable examples. In Australia and throughout Europe, Petite Sirah is most commonly known as Durif.
Durif grows primarily in Victoria, the second smallest and most southern mainland wine-growing region. This warm climate gets a reprieve from the hot days with cooling breezes from the Great Southern Ocean.
Here, Durif can be expected to have blackberries, chocolate, menthol, plums, and espresso flavors.
Israeli Petite Sirah
Deserving of an honorable mention, Petite Sirah has had recent success in Israel’s Carmel and Tishbi regions.
It was introduced by UC Davis graduates in the 1970s and has - similarly to California - progressed from being a blending grape to being a worthwhile single varietal.
Notable winemakers in Israel have succeeded with single varietals and blends of Petite Sirah with Carignan. Expect flavors of dark chocolate, plums, black cherry, and black tea.
How to Pair Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah is by no means petite in flavor. On the contrary, its robust and fruit-driven character makes it the perfect food pairing wine for richly flavored dishes.
When paired successfully, the wine exudes juicy and earth-driven flavors and elevates the dish it’s served alongside.
Factors to Consider When Pairing Foods with Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah is highly tannic with moderate acidity. These characteristics make Petite Sirah best suited for richly flavored, savory, and or fatty dishes.
Petite Syrah’s subtle smoky, earthy flavor makes it ideal for pairing with smoked meats and highly-seasoned dishes. In addition, its smooth fruit flavor can balance out heavily spiced dishes, though it is best avoided with sweet or overly spicy foods.
It’s also best to avoid lightly seasoned foods and seafood, as these will make the wine taste metallic and bitter.
The Best Petite Sirah Food Pairings
Now that we’ve gone over what not to do, it’s time for some good news! Petite Sirah is a fantastic food wine that is best served alongside your most flavorful and robust dishes.
Here are some recommendations on what to pair with Petite Sirah wine.