The Syrah based iwnes of France are among the world's best. And whe you consider the price of a great Bordeaux or Burgundy, they are relative bargains. But don't overlook Australia's greatest wine, Penfolds Grange. This huge powerful wine was created in the French style and can give France's Hermitage a run for its money. Below we have recipes chosen specifically for this grape and more information regarding the wine's history.

Quick Syrah Facts:

Shiraz or Syrah. Which one is correct? Strictly speaking, neither. These are both names for the same grape and they are based on the grape's supposed place of origin. Shiraz points to a city in Persia. Syrah links the grape to Syracuse on the island of Sicily. The truth is far more humbling, the grape is actually the offspring of two obscure Southeastern French varieties.

France has its A.O.C. and Italy has its D.O.C.G. These standards govern the quality of wine produced in those countries. Australia has the L.I.P. or the Label Integrity Program. It regulates the vintage, variety and geographic location claims made on the label.

Some of the oldest vines in France are in the Rhone Valley. The vineyards of Hermitage in the northern part of the valley have been around for 2000 years!

A Big Slice is proud to present our very own wine tasting kit, the Bacchus Box, a complete evening of fun in one rosewood box! Challenge your friends to a taste off. May the best wine win! No one, not even the host, knows the identities of the selections. Observe, smell, taste, rank, vote. Was yours the nectar ...or the salad dressing? A relaxed and fun way to discover new favorites. And remember, there is always a next time with the Bacchus Box. Includes everything you need (except wine and glasses) and a free 12 minute instructional DVD. Great gift! To check out the Bacchus Box, click on the red bar above. A Big Slice is a very large website (including over 200 recipes!) that is organized thematically. But if you know what you are looking for, just click on the red bar above and it will take you to our search page. Type in the term, or recipe in the space provided and it will take you directly to that page. If any links appear to be broken, please let us know at:

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Click above to return to the A Big Slice homepage. From there you will be able to visit our wine and international dinners sections. Plus we have a recipe and craft archive so you can quickly find what you are looking for. If it is contact information that you seek, that is also on the homepage - near the bottom. Thousands have already signed up for our newsletter. In 2009 we are focusing on the monthly holidays in a different way. How about a Mardi Gras Fais Do Do? Or a hearty St. Patrick's Day Irish Breakfast. We include holiday trivia and history, table settings, napkin folds and of course recipes. All we need is your email address. Click on the red bar above to sign up. Thank you!
Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Merlot is a gentle fruity wine. Often the strongest of those flavors is plum. Our recipes below empahsize that connection. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.
The wine world, like the world of fashion, is subject to trends. Wines go in and out of style, sales will skyrocket for a time, tastes will change and new grapes become the new sales leaders. Over the past decade the trendsetting wine was Merlot. Light fruity and easy to drink, this wine was a food and people pleaser. Unfortunately, merlot has seen its fortunes fade. And there is a new grape in town, smoldering, broody and dark. Syrah is now the wine to drink and there are plenty of delicious and affordable styles. One sure to suit your palate. The most renowned of the syrah based wines comes from the Northern Rhone Valley in France, but the crowd pleasers come from a relatively new player in the international game of wine, Australia. Down under, the grape is called Shiraz, and whether alone or with the venerable Cabernet Sauvignon by its side, the Australian version is hard to beat!.
Interestingly enough, Australia has no native vines, but has been making wine for over 175 years. Until recently however, Australian wines had a taste only an aussie could love. But that has all changed. From 1832 when James Busby brought the first cuttings of Shiraz back from the Rhone Valley until now Australia has used its technological prowess to create a world class wine. Oz Clarke has called their refrigerated fermentation technique the twentieth century's single most important winemaking advance. Australia has overtaken California as the world's most scientifically advanced winemakers and is taking a leading role in vinification. The refrigerated fermentation technique allows the winemaker to very accurately control the rate at which the grape's sugars are converted into alcohol. The resulting wine retains more of the character of the grape. It is fresh and fruity without sacrificing any depth or spiciness. At least as far as Shiraz, Australia might be considered a wine prodigy. But there is a beautiful valley in the southeastern part of France that has set the standard for Syrah based wines for centuries.
Located in Southeastern France the Rhone Valley is divided into two distinct districts, north and south. In the north the predominant grape in Syrah. The wines go by the names Côte Rôtie (or roasted coast) Crozes-Hermitage and the King of Syrah wines, Hermitage. The Southern Rhones feature Syrah but as a blending partner with Grenache and in the case of the glorious Chateauneuf-de-Pape, 12 other varieties as well. Unlike Australia, where mother nature's consistency can be counted on for a good vintage year after year, France is not so blessed. The year is important and you should consult a wine expert before laying down the big bucks for any of these blockbuster wines. If you have a bundle to blow you would do well to splurge on a great Hermitage or Chateauneuf-de-Pape (a real favorite of A Big Slice). But as a rule of thumb, you should know that the Australian version tends to be fruitier and more approachable, whereas the French Syrah is more austere and subtle. As for America, Syrah was almost unknown in California until the 1980's when a group of growers who called themselves the Rhone Rangers wanted to try their hand at this grape. So far the results have been mixed but progress has and will continue to be made.