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Cabernet Sauvignon vs Syrah & Shiraz

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To begin with, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah both have their origins in the southern half of France. The red wine varietals have also enjoyed great success outside their home country. 

Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape – Shiraz is simply what they call it in Australia, though it must be noted that Australians have their own unique style when it comes to making Shiraz.

Both Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz are big, bold red wines. Cabernet-Shiraz blends are particularly popular in Australia – when the country’s wine industry was in its youth, Cabernet-Shiraz blends were a way of forging a distinctly Australian style. However, for this article, we won’t go into detail with blends, and we’ll focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz/Syrah’s individual characteristics. 

Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz are both thick-skinned grapes and produce wine that is a similar dark red in color. 

Differences of Cabernet Sauvignon Versus Syrah/Shiraz

Cabernet Sauvignon originates from Bordeaux, while Syrah/Shiraz is from the opposite side of France, in the Rhone Valley.

Away from home, Syrah/Shiraz has enjoyed huge success in Australia, particularly in the Barossa Valley region. On the other hand, Cabernet is grown all over the world but is particularly prevalent in the United States. 

It is also worth noting that Australian Shiraz is usually higher in alcohol percentage than French Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Cabernet and Syrah/Shiraz have dark fruit aromas and flavors, but Cabernet often has a distinctive blackcurrant element. Syrah tastes slightly more like blackberry and is more fruity and sweet. 

Syrah/Shiraz grapes tend to be a lot larger than Cabernet Sauvignon, and contain slightly fewer tannins. For that reason, you can cellar Cabernet for longer. 

How To Distinguish Between Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah/Shiraz

While Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz look very similar in terms of acidity, tannin levels, and body, it is possible to taste the difference. 

Syrah/Shiraz is typically more harmonious and smooth in the mouth, while Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure can be described as angular and aggressive. Shiraz’s flavor profile is simply more sweet and fruity. Cabernet has more earthy elements and often takes on savory oaky characteristics if it was aged in oak barrels.

Cabernet Sauvignon vs Syrah & Shiraz Comparison Chart

Characteristic Cabernet Sauvignon Syrah/Shiraz
Sweetness Dry Dry
Acidity Medium Medium
Tannins High Medium-High
Body Full Full
Tasting Notes Black fruits – blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries. Bell pepper, spice and earthiness.  Black fruits – blackberries, plums, and blueberries. Meaty flavors, black olive, smoke and spice.
Popularity 90,500 Monthly Searches 39,200 Monthly Searches
Calories Per Glass 120 cal 130 cal
ABV % 13.5 – 14.5% 13 – 15.5%

Pairing Food With Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah/Shiraz

Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah/Shiraz are both excellent partners for steaks and burgers, as their acidity cuts through the fattiness of the meat. Syrah/Shiraz also does very well alongside salty food, such as blue cheese, which is balanced out by Syrah’s fruitiness.

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