There are more varietal Shirazes than any other varietal wine in South Africa and numbers continue to increase. Some include a fashionable drop of Viognier or Mourvedre and blends incorporating other varieties from Southern France and the Rhône are increasing in popularity and number.
Styles are often the result of popular demand and are obtained through winemaking techniques and not because of origin. A number of styles are available in South Africa, each with its own following.
The flavour profiles of Shiraz are determined by meso, macro and micro climate as well as soil, plant material, viticulture, aims in terms of production and winemaking techniques. Cooler and higher altitude terroirs provide distinctly different flavours to warmer areas.
While it is extremely difficult to generalize it can be said on average that wines from the warmer inland areas will provide upfront fruit, rich generous palates and lots of colour.
Shiraz and gastronomy
Shiraz is described as having a unique exuberant character and therefore one would naturally pair it with equally boisterous types of food.
One of South Africa’s gastronomic gurus, Katinka van Niekerk, advises that food that can be paired with Shiraz broadly falls into four quadrants.
Food with strong, powerful flavours
Hearty stews, casseroles and South Africa’s very own “potjies” fall into this category.
Slow-cooked dishes, usually made with less tender cuts of meat, are full-flavoured and work extremely well with Shiraz. Herb-roasted and spiced meats and vegetables are also good matches for this variety.
All forms of game
From venison pie to kudu or ostrich steak, roast duck, rabbit or springbok, Shiraz with its inherent gaminess, is an excellent partner.
Grilled, braaied or barbequed food
One of Shiraz’s well-known characteristics is its smokiness. Foods prepared in this way are paired with Shiraz with huge success.
Sweet sauces, jellies and relishes
These sauces, often made from full-ripe berries or other fruit that traditionally accompany dishes such as roasted meats, simply call for Shiraz.
The cheese and wine concept has been around for ages but pairing a wine with cheese can be rather tricky. The principle of teaming up the strong flavours of Shiraz with the equally strong flavours of a cheese may not necessarily turn out to be a match made in heaven! However there are some cheeses that go very well with Shiraz e.g. certain hard cow’s milk cheeses, blue cheese, aged Cheddar, Gruyere, Manchego and slightly aged goat’s cheese. But bear in mind that these are just general guidelines and personal preference also plays a role.