Written by: Tim Edison

Updated on: October 24, 2020

Petite Sirah Wine Guide

Deepen your understanding of fine wines and the grapes that make them with this comprehensive Petite Sirah wine guide.

petite sirah wine

Petite Sirah is one of the most beloved of all American wines, and it has been made from a special breed of French grapes since the mid-19th Century.

Despite the name, Petite Sirah wine is actually very different from Sirah, as it comes from a different strain of grape variety.

The grapes from which Petite Sirah is made are called Durif grapes and they are mainly grown in California and Israel.

Petite Sirah is known for its rich, full-bodied and fruity flavor and deep, purplish color, known to stain almost anything it comes into contact with.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this distinct wine, its origins and what sets the durif grape aside from other varieties, you’ll find everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide.

The Origins of Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah is a grape variety that first came into existence in the 1860s, when a French man called François Durif accidentally crossbred two existing grapes - the Syrah and the Peloursin - to create a new grape which was to be called ‘Durif’.

In the United States and in Israel, this grape is called Petite Sirah; elsewhere, in Europe, it is simply known as Durif.

purple red grapes with green leaves

After the discovery of the Durif, the grape plant became a popular choice for winemakers, as the plant was hardy and resistant to mildew.

During the 1960s, a century after the grape was first discovered, Petite Sirah wine became very popular in the States, and many were planted in California.

Since then, other varieties have become more fashionable, and for a while Petite Sirah became more niche choice of wine.

However, over the last 10 years or so, Petite Sirah has started to become more popular again, and California winegrowers have risen to meet the demand.

Next: Valpolicella means “the valley of many cellars.” Find out why here.

Difference Between Syrah and Petite Sirah 

Despite having similar names, Syrah and Petite Sirah are very different from one another.

Syrah, which is also known as Shiraz in Europe, is one half of the parent grapes from which Petite Sirah evolved.

The other parent was Peloursin, which is almost never used in winemaking today.

girard petite sirah wine

Where is Petite Sirah Wine Made? 

Petite Sirah wine is largely made in California, where there are several different varieties grown across multiple regions in the state.

It is one of the most popular grapes grown in the famous wine region of Napa Valley, where you can find a wide array of different Petite Sirah flavors and aromas.

napa valley

For instance, In California’s inland valleys, the Petite Sirah grapes are known for their deep, inky coloring and rich, fragrant aromas with a hint of berries and black pepper.

Head towards the coast, and as the temperatures drop slightly, the taste of the wine becomes deeper and more earthy, with detectable hints of coffee.

How Much Does Petite Sirah Cost?

The price of Petite Sirah varies from one place to another. Typically, you will find the most affordable wines in or close to the regions where they are grown. The price also depends on the variety which you choose.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $25 for a standard bottle of Petite Sirah. In regions where the grape is less well used, to get a bottle that is 100% Petite Sirah you will likely need to pay $30 or more.

Next: Check out this article to learn more about Ripasso, one of the most popular Italian wines on the market.

What Does Petite Sirah Taste Like?

Petite Sirah is known for its deep and fruity taste, and although the precise flavors vary from region to region, as there are many factors such as soil and climate that affect the grapes’ taste, there are certain aromas and palate flavors that are unanimously present across the wine.

Typically, Petite Sirah, which has dark, dense and inky coloring, has a fruity taste and a rich finish. Different styles are more or less fruity, manifesting itself immediately on the palate with a nice kick of tannin, as this is a wine with a considerable amount of acidity present.

petite-sira wine

Typical aromas you can expect to get from the wine include: blueberries, blackberries, black pepper, vanilla, plum, dark chocolate, lavender, cocoa and floral scents.

On the palate, the wine has a fruit, berry-like flavor with an underlying gentle acidity. Other Petite Sirah tastes you might get include chocolate, mocha and coffee on the palate.

Storing and Aging 

If you want the most from your Petite Sirah, the best thing to do is decant it and leave it for a couple of hours - this will allow it to breathe and improve its taste.

Ideally serve at room temperature to get the full effect of the different aromas and flavors.

Typically, a good Petite Sirah can be aged for up to 7 years, after which it will likely become too acidic to drink.

However, there are some winemakers, such as the reputable ones in Napa Valley, who have made fine vintages that can last up to 20 years, so watch out for those varieties if you want to add some Petite Sirah to your wine cellar.

Petite Sirah Serving Recommendations

Petite Sirah wine goes wonderfully with a wide range of foods and dishes. Its high tannin levels mean that it pairs particularly well with rich, umami-centric dishes such as beef casserole, BBQs, burgers, roast pork, camembert, cheese fondue, spiced lamb, fried mushrooms, caramelized onions and griddled eggplant.

So, there you have it - a complete guide to the unique Petite Sirah wine variety. We hope you’ve found it entertaining and informative in equal measure, and that you perhaps enjoy a glass of rich Petite Sirah when you’re next in the mood for wine. 

About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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