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Requested Recipe:


"I am starting a small vineyard here in Washington and have planted...25 syrah.... Do you have any recipes...?" M. Mertz Wuts, eastern Washington State.


This noble black grape of the northern Rhône is usually distinguished by growers as either the small-berried Petite Sirah or the large-berried Grosse Syrah. While not a strict taxononic distinction, it is useful to know that the larger grape has a smaller concentration of phenolics. The grape is known in Austria as Shiraz. So, whether Syrah, Sirah or Shiraz, this grape is known for its longivity, slow maturation, pepper and leather scent, dark fruited notes, and balsamic hint.

The wines of the Syrah tend to be thin, acrid and astringent until they reach maturity, and then they emerge deeply dark, richly bodied, headily scented, and structurally complex. As a varietal or the anchor in a premium blend, Syrahs age well with oak while retaining the broad, heavy notes of black fruit (cherry, currant) so greatly appreciated at the dinner table. One need only think of the rich, dark wines of Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the Languedoc to appreciate the potential of this darkly pigmented grape.

The recipe below is quite basic and yields a highly respected table wine. But it is at the blending bench that Syrah excells, and there are a lifetime of possibilities awaiting anyone lucky enough to have a steady supply with which to experiment.

(makes 5 gallons)

Grapes should be crushed, destemmed, treated with pectic enzyme in primary and stirred. Cover and set aside 4 hours, treat with ¼ teaspoon potassium metabisulfite and stir again. Re-cover and set aside overnight. Draw off sample of juice and measure sugar and acid, adjusting as necessary. Stir in yeast nutrient and oak powder, then add activated yeast. Punch down cap twice daily and on 5th day of vigorous fermentation, inoculate with malo-lactic culture. When specific gravity drops to 1.000, press grapes and return juice to primary or 6½-gallon secondary until malo-lactic fermentation completes. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon potassium metabisulfite into juice sample and put in sanitized 5-gallon carboy. Rack wine onto sulfite sample, top up and attach airlock. Rack every 6 weeks until wine clears, adding ¼ teaspoon potassium metabisulfite every other racking. Wait 3 weeks after wine clears and rack into bottles. Age 12 months before tasting, longer if will-power permits. [Author's own recipe]

My thanks to M. Mertz Wuts, eastern Washington State, for this request.

This page was updated on June 28th, 2001

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