As you’d expect from a wine saint, St Peter is very knowledgeable about wine, so if you’re after few tips on how to sound like you know what you’re talking about, read what he’s got to say on Shiraz, memorise it and repeat. That’s what I do!
Today, St Peter – one of our revered Wine Saints – is taking over this week’s Friday Drinks. After last week’s Shiraz and food pairing post, St Peter got very excited about his favourite wine variety.
Here’s what he’s got to say about this hefty yet elegant, complex wine:
“Shiraz is my go-to wine. I always feel confident that, from the price or region or just the notes, I’m getting something I know I’ll like. It’s the wine I enjoy drinking the most.
For me I can drink it with almost anything from chicken to beef (I guess steak – but especially beef – is my preferred meat), blue cheese, on its own… I had a friend who would really enjoy a cigar with a nice bottle of Shiraz.
For me, Shiraz is an evening drink. It tends to make me quite sleepy – especially the big reds typically from the Barossa region. That said over a big dinner, it works so well.
One thing I don’t drink it with (ok, sometimes I do…) is spicy food. These days I love a good Pinot noir. However, Pinot isn’t my favourite; I find it harder to know which ones to drink, I don’t like the ones that just taste watery. Typically the cold climate pinot is where I head to here. But there have been some disappointments.
It wasn’t until I lived in Orange, NSW that I started to respect the cold climate Shiraz – they are very different. In my opinion they offer a more complex flavour, similar to the wines from France. I guess they’re more delicate. I still love the big reds but now I just have more choice.
My first experience of good quality Shiraz was Cab Shiraz Penfolds 389. I was in Singapore staying with a friend. I love the whole story of this wine. It’s often referred to as ‘the poor man’s Grange’ as it gets the 2nd-year use of the expensive French oak barrels (Grange always uses new oak). These days its price is outrageous, but it’s still an awesome drink.
As far as ‘oaking’ wine goes, I’ve learnt a lot about how different wood will affect the wine. I don’t know why, but I like my wine to have spent time in French oak. For me French oak gives the wine a subtle, controlled flavour which softens the tannins over time. A good bottle ($20 – $30 in today’s money) oaked in newish barrels should soften and get these leathery flavours over the years.
On the other hand, wine from American oak is bold, and BIG. What it can do is really reduce the harsh, young flavour of a red wine, and enhance these big bold flavours, which French oak would do ‘differently’, and take more time to do it too.
If you start to notice the types of Shiraz you enjoy, you will notice the difference between French and American. These days I can often tell from tasting the wine which one was used.”
Do you have a favourite Shiraz? Have you noticed the difference in flavours between French and American oaked wine? Which do you prefer?