Similarities of Pinot Noir & Syrah / Shiraz
Pinot Noir and Syrah/Shiraz both originate from France. At home, they are known for being cool-climate grapes. Pinot Noir grows in the continental climate of Burgundy, and Syrah/Shiraz in the cooler, northern part of the Rhone Valley.
However, both of these French red varietals are pretty popular outside of France. They are grown worldwide, and New World iterations of these red wines are made in a slightly different style, often taking on a more intensely fruity profile.
It’s important to know that Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, essentially – Shiraz is just the Australian name for Syrah.
While Pinot Noir and Syrah/Shiraz differ in the fullness of their body, both of these red wines are high in acidity, and dry. The acidity reveals itself in different ways with each wine, but generally speaking, both wines have a considerable acid kick.
Differences of Pinot Noir Versus Syrah / Shiraz
On the vine, Syrah/Shiraz grapes are dark and thick-skinned, making them suitable for growing in a variety of climates, and giving the resulting wine more tannins.
Pinot Noir grapes are the exact opposite. They are low in tannins, thin-skinned, and notoriously difficult to grow in anything other than cool climate regions.
Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine, and Syrah/Shiraz is full-bodied. Syrah, but particularly Australian style Shiraz, also typically contains higher levels of alcohol than Pinot Noir.
In short, even the leanest, most extreme French-style Syrah will taste bigger, bolder and more tannic than Pinot Noir. The difference between the two red wines is exaggerated even more when you take ripe and characterful New World Syrah/Shiraz wines into account. Syrah/Shiraz is also considered to be better for extended cellaring than Pinot Noir.
How To Distinguish Between Pinot Noir & Syrah / Shiraz
In terms of flavor, Syrah/Shiraz contains bold dark berry flavors, with earthy hints of smoke and spice. The wine’s fruit flavors can become more intense and ripe when produced in warmer climates.
On the other hand, Pinot Noir is more oriented toward red berries, such as cranberries, strawberries and raspberries. It is heavily influenced by the environment it is grown in, so it can contain a variety of fruity nuances. It is also earthy but is more likely to contain subtle notes of mushrooms and herbs, than the smokiness of Syrah/Shiraz.
Visually, Syah/Shiraz will appear much darker red than Pinot Noir, which may be the easiest way to tell the difference. Syrah is one of the darkest red wine types available. This translates to the mouthfeel, as Syrah and Shiraz will taste juicy and full, while Pinot Noir is better described as light, elegant and delicate.
Pinot Noir vs Syrah / Shiraz Comparison Chart
|Characteristic||Pinot Noir||Syrah / Shiraz|
|Tasting Notes||Red fruits – raspberries, strawberries and cranberries. Earthy flavors of forest floor, tea leaves and mushrooms.||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 %||12-15%||13 – 15.5%|
Pairing Food With Pinot Noir & Syrah / Shiraz
Shiraz pairs well with strong flavors and red meats, particularly barbecued food with smoky flavors. Pinot Noir is better for white meats and rich fish, similar to pairings for white wines. However, Pinot Noir also has a depth of fruity flavor that goes well with herby foods and soft but flavorful cheeses.