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  • Writer's pictureMolly Jean

Molly's Meal Match: Syrah/Shiraz

Syrah/Shiraz are the same grape varietal, they share the same DNA, they are cut from the same...vine. Factors such as, the location from which the grapes are sourced, its terroir, and winemaking styles determine which nomenclature is used. Syrah is used on the label in European countries, whereas Shiraz will be found on the label of wines from Australia and South Africa.

In other countries, the spelling of the grape on the label is an indication of style. You can assume wines labeled Syrah will be smooth with medium tannin, smoke flavors and restrained fruit aromas. Wines labelled Shiraz, will have high concentration of fruit flavors with more tannin and peppery notes. Winemakers can choose which style of the varietal they would like to make and name it accordingly. While this is a common labelling strategy, it is NOT the rule.

Regardless of whether you are sipping on Syrah or Shiraz, they share consistent aromas and characteristics that are sure to make your teeth purple. These wines pair deliciously with red meats and an array of spices. For this meal match, I paired the Syrah/Shiraz wines with delicious and unique sandwiches.

After all, I am a sucker for alliteration and a hardy sando.



Shiraz is the most widely planted grape variety in Australia. Unfortunately, consumerism has significantly impacted wine production. Quality was sacrificed for quantity, resulting in an overplanting of Shiraz. Large yields of grapes produce less of those concentrated flavors we love so much.

Knowing this, look for Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. It's the oldest growing region in Australia (old vine = low yield and more concentrated flavors). These wines are high acid, spicy and have a unique iron quality. You can also look for wines from the Yarra Valley - a cooler climate region with more jammy and robust flavors.



Famously, you can find delicious Syrah wines from the Northern Rhone, AOCs. For the best representations of wines from this region, look for the following on the label: Côte-Rôtie ($$$$$), Hermitage ($$$$), and Crozes-Hermitage ($$$). The age of the vines and the challenge of harvesting on slick granite slopes, account for the high price of these wines.

If you do not want to break the bank, you can also look for Southern Rhone Syrah from the IGP zone, Costieres de Nimes. This region was formerly part of the Languedoc region, but they broke up because she had more in common with Rhone.



Syrah is Washington's 3rd most widely grown grape variety. It's a hardy varietal that is perfect for Eastern, WA growing conditions. It's hard to find a bad Syrah from here. I am aware that I am a little biased, but it was my gateway wine - the wine that made me love wine.

Keep an eye out for Syrah from Walla Walla. They are out of this world! Be wary of those high alcohol wines, they are deceptively masked by the fruity and peppery aromas in the wine.


Flavors and Aromas found in Syrah Wine

Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation): blueberry, plum, raspberry, lavender, olives, black pepper, black tea

Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking): milk chocolate, smoke

Tertiary (maturation/aging): tobacco leaf, dried fruit, earth, tobacco, leather, bacon, graphite, forest floor

Flavors and Aromas found in Shiraz Wine

Primary (grape and alcoholic fermentation): olive, black pepper, blackberry sauce, jammy, fruit cake, sassafras, tart black fruit flavors, boysenberry, iron

Secondary (post-fermentation winemaking): chocolate, star anise

Tertiary (maturation/aging): camphor, sweet tobacco, game, meat

Syrah/Shiraz can be sipped on right away and some can be cellared for 7-15 years if they have high acidity and tannin levels.


Sandwich de Churrasco

I am not going to lie, this UCO Valley wine was a bit flabby. The acidity was there, but the alcohol and primary aromas you would expect from a Syrah - fell short. This wine had light aromas of blackberry and plum, with hints of leather and graphite on the palate. As I mentioned, on its own the wine was just ok.

This is where the magic of pairing comes in! The fat from the juicy steak, allowed those fruity, sweet aromas to shine through. This traditional Chilean sandwich, also allowed for pronounced flavors of pepper to make an appearance.

Essentially, this sandwich made the Syrah - taste like a Syrah. I quite enjoyed this pairing and I would classify this wine as a "food" wine. Which is a wine that needs a food pairing to amplify the desired flavors and aromas.

If you are skeptical of this wine option, this sandwich would pair deliciously with another peppery Syrah.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

hoagie Roll

kettle cooked potato chips

1/4 cup of Sofrito Goya

Refrigerated Goods:

1 lb skirt steak


1 cup of shredded romaine lettuce

1 steak tomato

1 tbsp or 1/2 of a lime juiced (to taste)



On hand:

2 tsp of coconut aminos (alt: soy sauce)

1/2 cup mayo 2 tbsp ketchup 1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp avocado oil


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the Sofrito, coconut aminos, and avocado oil (marinade).

2. Cut the steak into thin, 1in long strips. Once cut, place the steak strips and the marinade into a Ziploc bag. Ensure each piece of the steak comes in contact with the marinade. Let it sit in the marinade for 1-4 hours.

3. After marinating, remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes prior to cooking (bring to room temp).

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, ketchup, lime and garlic powder (special sauce).

5. Warm a large skillet on medium-high heat. Once heated, add the marinated steak to the skillet. Allow 2-3 minutes for the steak to brown, stir the meat and cook for an additional couple minutes until cooked through. Set aside.

6. Slather your hoagie roll with the special sauce. Try to maintain the roll's connection.

7. Add tomato slices to the bottom portion of the roll. Salt and pepper the tomatoes to taste.

8. Add the steak on top of the tomatoes. (Optional: Drizzle special sauce on the steak)

9. Add the shredded lettuce to the top portion of the roll.

10. Sprinkle potato chips in the middle, close the hoagie, and devour your delicious Sandwich de Churrasco.

bottom bun > special sauce > tomato slices > steak > potato chips > shredded lettuce > special sauce > top bun


Roast Beef and Blue Cheese Panini

This Barossa Valley wine has aromas of black plum, candied red fruits, leather and wet leaves. On the palate, there is an interesting note of iron. Making this meaty sandwich, a bloody good match!

The acidity of the reduced balsamic red onions and the fat of the cheese/meat, lessened the harshness of the tannins, while highlighting the dark fruit aromas. You can never go wrong with a good sandwich. Plus, this pairing will have everyone in the house begging for more. Just ask my sous chef, Chance!

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

Artisan White Bread (I recommend The Rustik Oven)

Refrigerated Goods:

1/2 lbs thinly sliced roast beef (for 2 large sandwiches)

light mayo


1 red onion


Muenster cheese

spreadable blue cheese (I recommend Saint Agur L'intense)

On hand:



2 tsp avocado oil

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar


Making the Reduced Balsamic Red Onions:

1. Thinly slice the red onion

2. In a medium pan heat 1 tsp avocado oil, then add the red onion and cook stirring occasionally on med-high.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tsp avocado oil, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

4. Once the onions have started to caramelize, reduce the heat to med-low and add in the balsamic mixture.

5. Stir occasionally for 20-30 minutes. Once the liquid begins to reduce and thicken, it's complete.

Building the Panini

1.Plug in your panini maker to get it up to temp.

2. Grab 2 slices of bread.

3. Put mayo on one side, of each of the bread slices.

4. On one piece of bread, place 3 Muenster cheese slices on top of the mayo (however many it takes to cover the entire piece of bread). On the other piece of bread, spread the blue cheese on top of the mayo.

5. Place 5 slices of roast beef on the panini grill, close and heat for about 30 seconds. Then place the roast beef slices evenly on top of the Muenster cheese.

6. Top the roast beef with the reduced balsamic red onions and complete the sandwich with the other bread slice.

bread > mayo > Muenster cheese > roast beef > reduced balsamic red onions > blue cheese > mayo > bread


Chicken Gyros

I loved this pairing! It was fresh and complex, all at the same time. This is the perfect meal for a red wine lover, enduring the traditional white wine pairings of summer. Smelling of dried fruits, black plum, blackberry, maple syrup, pepper and cloves - this wine will have you drooling before the meal is ready.

The herbs in the Gyro brought out the earthy and woody mesquite flavors in the wine. The citrus and umami from the chicken marinade, lessened the drying of the tannin on the palate allowing the deep fruity aromas to shine through!

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

red wine vinegar

8in pita rounds (alternative: Stonefire Naan)


Refrigerated Goods:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


5 cloves garlic (minced)

1 lemon juiced

2 cucumbers (peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch pieces)

1 cup of cherry tomatoes (halved)

1 red onion (diced)

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley


1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt

tzatziki sauce (I used Cucumber Dill Greek yogurt dip - Opadipity by Litehouse)

On hand:



1/4 cup + 2 tbsp avocado oil 1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp + 1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried rosemary


1.Put yogurt, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tsp red wine vinegar, lemon juice, 2 tbsp of oil, pinch of salt, pepper to taste, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp ground coriander, and 1 tbsp dried oregano into a Ziplock bag. Shake it wildly.

2. Put the chicken in the bag and allow it to marinate for 1 - 3 hours. Flip the bag half way through marinating time.

3. In a medium bowl, place the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, 3 tsp vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Gently mix and set aside. (cucumber salad)

4. Grill the chicken until done. I cooked the chicken on a Traeger, on the highest heat for 30-35 minutes.

5. Meanwhile heat 1/4 cup of avocado oil in a small-medium sized pan. Once warm, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1 tsp of oregano, salt and pepper to taste.

6. Paint the pita with this oil mixture and place in a foil lined pan. Broil on low for 3-5 minutes.

7. Dice chicken into small bite-size pieces.

8. When the pita is done, build your Gyro. Place foil square on a plate (1/2 way down the pita), put tzatziki on the pita, add the chicken, add the cucumber salad, drizzle with more tzatziki. Use the foil to assist in wrapping the Gyro.

9. Enjoy the pairing!

foil square > pita > tzatziki > chicken > cucumber salad > tzatziki drizzle > roll, using foil for assistance/closure


Cambozola Bacon Burgers with BBQ Aioli

This wine is a perfect representation of Washington Syrah. This wine is well balanced, with medium to high tannins, good acidity, and high alcohol. It has serious complexity, as beautiful violet, blackberry and pepper aromas become more pronounced with every sip.

The wine complimented the burgers as the sweetness from the BBQ sauce and brioche buns, amplified the tannins. While the delicious funk from the Cambozola cheese adds to the earthiness in the wine. Substitute the BBQ sauce for balsamic vinegar in the aioli and it will be equally delicious.

Shopping List

Dry Goods:

brioche buns

Refrigerated Goods:

2 tbsp BBQ sauce

1/2 cup mayo

1 tsp mustard

.5 lb Bacon

1 lb ground beef

Worchester sauce


baby arugula

sweet onion sliced


Cambozola cheese

On hand:

garlic powder



avocado oil


1. Heat avocado oil in a pan. Once warm, add the sliced onions and cook on high until translucent. Reduce to low and occasionally stir. Once they are brown and shrink they are ready to be removed from the heat. This will take roughly 30 minutes.

2. Get your grill or Traeger up to a high heat. Remove your Cabozola cheese from the refrigerator and bring to room temp - it will be easier to spread.

3. Pack the beef into 1/4 lb patties. Dash the garlic powder, pepper, salt, and Worchester sauce on each side of the patty. I do not measure this out, I just go for it. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, mix together the BBQ sauce, mayo, mustard, pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Set aside your BBQ aioli.

5. When the grill is to temp, slap those meat patties on the grill.

6. While the patties are cooking, begin cooking your bacon in a large skillet. Remove from heat when they reach your desired crispness.

7. Check your patties, use your intuition for flipping. They should cook a total of 7-10 minutes depending on your grill and desired doneness level.

8. Build your burger.

bottom bun > BBQ aioli > beef patty > Cambozola cheese > arugula > bacon > caramelized onions > BBQ aioli > top bun


I hope you enjoyed learning about Syrah/Shiraz and checking out these sandwich suggestions. If you have feedback, comments, or questions please feel free to comment below, post to The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me on Instagram.

Thank you Wine Simple, Wine for Normal People, The Wine Bible, and Wine Folly for providing me with amazing research materials. Follow along with The Wine Tails Pinterest page to see what gets me motivated and gives me inspiration for these pairings.

Cheers and happy sipping!

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James Brown
James Brown
20 sept. 2022

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