Written by: Tim Edison

Updated on: January 9, 2023

Ultimate Syrah Food Pairing Guide [20 Unmissable Pairings]

Ultimate Syrah Food Pairing Guide

Syrah, known for deep and bold complexity, is one of the most popular wines in the world (I sure can't get enough of it anyway!).

Its full body, velvety tannins, and inky color make it a standout wine to pair with everything from BBQ to smoked meats to hearty vegetarian dishes. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about making the perfect Syrah food pairing.

We've got you covered with tasting notes, regional differences, pairing tips, and tons of amazing recommendations!

What Does Syrah Taste Like?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of food and wine pairings, it’s first helpful to know what exactly Syrah tastes like and how regional differences affect its flavor.

Syrah is a dry red wine with a full body, medium acidity, and moderate to high tannins. All examples of Syrah can be expected to have flavors of dark fruits, including blackberry, black currant, and black cherry. Additional flavors of earth, forest floor, and smoke appear in both young and aged wines. 

Syrah is most often aged in oak, resulting in a light baking spice flavor. Both in Australia and the Northern Rhône Valley, Syrah grapes are often co-fermented in tanks with Viognier, which adds floral and aromatic notes to the wine. 

Syrah is generally grown in warm climates, making for dark fruit and cooked fruit-flavored wines with moderate acidity.

In cooler climates, Syrah can be expected to have lighter fruit flavors of plum, cherry, and smoke.


French Syrah

Originating in the Rhône Valley, Syrah is still predominantly made in France. Northern Rhône exclusively grows Syrah, with no other permissible red grapes allowed.

In addition, Syrah is the leading component in Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends alongside Grenache, Mourvèdre, and a dozen or so additional grapes, making for the classic “GSM” blend. 

In France, Syrah can be expected to have flavors of blackberry, smoke, herbs, and baking spices. GSM blends typically have bright red and dark fruit flavors of raspberry and blackberry, along with dried herbs and baking spices. In the GSM blend, Syrah adds richness, ageability, and complexity.


Australian Syrah (Shiraz)

While France may be the largest producer of Syrah, this grape has taken over as Australia’s leading red grape.

Here, known as Shiraz, it is most notably grown in Barossa and Hunter Valley. Shiraz can be expected to have more fruit-driven flavors than Rhône Valley. 

Expect bold dark fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, and blackcurrant, along with noticeable flavors of pepper and smoke.


Californian Syrah (Shiraz)

Paso Robles remains the leading producer in California of Syrah and makes Rhône style wines with more earth-driven notes of herbs, forest floor, and spice.

GSM blends are also common in this region, making lighter wines more versatile for delicate pairings than single-varietal Syrah.


How to Pair Syrah

Syrah is a multifaceted wine with flavors ranging from spice to smoke to dark fruits. This, along with its acidity and plush tannins, makes Syrah a no-brainer for a whole host of food pairings. 


Factors to Consider When Pairing Foods with Syrah

Syrah’s medium to high tannins and moderate acidity make it a good match for richly flavored dishes such as beef stews, pot roasts, and BBQ.

In addition, its ability to tenderize and soften meat makes it perfect for fatty proteins such as pork belly or ribeye. 

Generally, wine should not be more intense than the food it’s served with. Therefore, it is best to avoid pairing Syrah with mild flavors, especially seafood and buttery or citrus-based dishes.

Vinaigrettes will make Syrah taste bitter by comparison, so avoid dressings or sauces higher in acid than the wine. 


The Best Food Pairings With Syrah Wine

Be it meat, veg, snacks, cheeses or appetizers, we've got some incredible food pairings to try with your next bottle of Shiraz/Syrah.


Syrah Meat Dish Pairings

Cooked prime rib to be served

Prime rib

  • Pork belly - Syrah’s dark fruit flavor and robust tannins make it the perfect match against a richly flavored, fatty dish of crispy pork belly.
  • Smoked brisket - A Syrah from the Rhône Valley with notable flavors of smoke and earth is best suited for equally smoky meat such as beef brisket. 
  • Coffee-crusted steak or pork tenderloin - Australian Shiraz is the perfect wine to accentuate those robust coffee notes of the steak while appearing sweeter and fruitier in comparison.
  • Kangaroo - Known for being lean, gamey, more flavorful than beef, and less tough than venison, kangaroo is a versatile protein that is perfectly paired with - you guessed it - Australian Shiraz.
  • Prime rib - A robust red like Syrah deserves a fair match like a hearty protein like prime rib. A single-varietal Syrah - or one blended with Cabernet - from any region is an ideal pairing.


Syrah Vegetarian Dish Pairings

Vegetarian stuffed peppers

Vegetarian stuffed peppers

  • Vegetarian stuffed peppers - The complimentary flavor of slow-roasted, savory peppers stuffed with hearty beans, melted cheese, and robust herbs are perfectly paired with a GSM or single-varietal Rhône Syrah. 
  • Carrot curry soup - A lightly spiced warm winter soup belongs with a robust red such as an Australian or Californian Syrah. 
  • Three bean cassoulet - Savory vegetables, hearty beans, and plenty of butter make for a decadent vegetarian dish that is best paired with an Australian Shiraz. 
  • Smoked vegetables - Syrah and smoke are two peas in a pod, so any dish that centers around smoked (or BBQ’d) components are best suited for a Syrah with a complimentary smoke flavor. Both Rhône and Washington state are known for smoky Syrah.
  • Gorgonzola mac ‘n cheese - Syrah pairs perfectly with salty and tangy cheeses, and when you have a dish as rich as mac ‘n cheese, you need an equally flavorful wine. A berry-forward Shiraz is perfect for brightening up an otherwise heavy dish. 


Syrah Appetizer Pairings

Charcuterie Board of Meat & Cheese

Charcuterie

  • Charcuterie - Technically speaking, the term charcuterie refers simply to cured meats, which is exactly the companion Syrah needs to shine. Salty, cured meats will make Syrah taste sweet, less bitter, and wonderfully fruity. 
  • Garlic-stuffed olives - The briny flavor from the olives and the aromatic depth of garlic are perfectly paired with an inky and bold Californian Syrah. 
  • Baked brie in pastry dough - A higher-acid Syrah from France or Italy is ideal for cutting through the rich flavors of brie and buttery pastry dough and is guaranteed to make the wine taste sweeter and fruitier. 
  • Bacon-wrapped dates - The balance of savory and sweet is perfectly matched with a dark and fruity Australian Shiraz.
  • Loaded potato skins - Crispy, cheesy, and literally “loaded” with flavor, an equally flavorful New World Syrah from Australia or California is the best wine for the task.


Syrah and Cheese Pairings

Gouda Cheese

Gouda cheese

  • Roquefort - Syrah pairs beautifully with all sorts of blue cheeses, and such a distinct bouquet as Roquefort deserves a robust and exciting Syrah, ideally of the Northern Rhône variety.
  • Aged cheddar - Salty foods make wine taste sweeter, less bitter, and more fruity, so what better way to celebrate this ideal union than pairing a savory aged cheddar with a robust Shiraz?
  • Smoked gouda - The smoky, nutty, and creamy combination makes for a wine best paired with a fruity Syrah or a more delicately flavored GSM blend. 
  • Comté - This French cheese has flavors reminiscent of Swiss gruyère and pairs nicely with a more subtle GSM blend. 
  • Beaufort - This aromatic and pungent cheese is known for its floral, nutty, and herbal flavors, making it an ideal pairing with a GSM or Shiraz from Hunter Valley, known for its fresh black fruit flavor. 


Syrah and Snack Pairings

Nachos

Nachos

  • Nachos - Crispy, cheesy, and with all the fixings, Syrah is the perfect wine to pair with a salty and spicy snack. 
  • Jerky - With such a rich and salty flavor, jerky is a hard snack to pair with wine. Luckily, Syrah is well-suited, with complimentary smoke and spice flavors, plus dark fruit, which will taste sweeter in comparison. 
  • Pastrami sandwich - With smoke, salt, and black pepper flavors, a simple pastrami sandwich has all the makings of a perfect Syrah pairing.
  • Fried pickles - Fried foods require an equally flavorful wine, preferably one with high acid to cut through the rich flavors. Australia has developed a reputation for making both dry and sweet sparkling Shiraz, either of which would make the perfect pairing.
  • Peanut butter and bacon jam sandwich - The combination of salty, smoky, and sweet bacon jam combined with peanut butter makes the ultimate PB&J, and few wines are as fitting as a berry-licious Shiraz.


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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