Shiraz is native to the ancient city of Shiraz in Persia (present day Iran).

Answer: False.

This erroneous legend just won’t die, but Shiraz did not come from Iran—or from Sicily or Greece, two other falsehoods. (Yesterday was Shiraz Day so we thought we’d set the record straight). The grape Syrah is usually known in Australia (and sometimes in South Africa) as Shiraz. Why so? In the seventeenth century, French Huguenots (fleeing religious persecution) brought Syrah from France (where it is indigenous) to South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. From South Africa, it was eventually brought to Australia. However, by the 1830s, Syrah was also being brought directly to Australia from France. Most scholars think the name Shiraz is a corruption of one of the grape’s many colloquial French names (which include Serine, Serinne, Sira, etc.).  Today, of course, Shiraz is Australia’s most planted and most famous red wine. Indeed, in appellations such as the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Margaret River, and a half dozen others, Shiraz can be spellbinding delicious and spicy, although rarely as outrageously gamey as the French Syrahs from Côte Rôtie or Hermitage.

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