Okay, back to our regularly featured programming…guiding you with Thanksgiving wine selections. 

Remember, the premise and most requested information about Thanksgiving wines, “What varietals to serve with the cornucopia of flavors present at the Thanksgiving table and something cheap to help pimp out the meal”.  I hear you loud and clear.

We’ve already discussed Riesling and touched on Zinfandel, now let’s move on to Syrah/Shiraz. 

As a side note, I know many of you understand Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape varietal, it’s the terroir that’s different.  However, several days ago I had a woman tell me she will only drink Shiraz and not Syrah.  Huh?  I explained to her it was EXACTLY the same grape, only the Australians call it Shiraz, she seriously did not believe me.  It’s kind of like the whole Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio debacle…it’s the same grape… but some people have hard heads.  Yes, the wines are made in different regions, but the grape is the same, k?

Anyway, why Syrah/Shiraz for Turkey Day? 

First of all, Syrah, with its fruity taste and peppery finish, can hold its own during a meal full of varying flavors.  The Syrah will help pick up the intensity and flavor of the feast and will not offset the sweeter parts of the meal. 

I know Pinot Noir has always been claimed as the quintessential Thanksgiving Day wine…and trust me it is a very good choice/pairing…but Syrah can hold its own and is often one of the wines added to Pinot Noir for blending purposes.  Just keep that in the back of your head.

Overall, Syrah is one of those wines you can easily find enjoyment in just about any bottle.

I have tasted many and have come up with a grab-bag of different options, all absolute bargains for what you get.

These three wines were available at Costco and two grocery stores in my area, meaning they can be found everywhere.  Hunt them down and put them on your T-day table, you’ll be glad you did.

So I went for a Shiraz blend, a Syrah and a Rose of Syrah.  They are all great.

And even though I haven’t mentioned dry Rose, it is also perfect for Thanksgiving; it works well with vegetables and cranberry sauce.  If you do go Rose, stick with a Rose of Syrah, Grenache or Merlot. They will have a spiciness often found in the full red wine versions.

2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet, South Australia $7-9

A very serious wine for a very humble price (it was only $7.50 at Costco).  Blackberry and black currant are most prevalent on the nose, a very focused taste and lingering fruit on the finish.  A blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, it’s a versatile blend, perfect with food.  91 Points awarded from Wine Advocate

2006 Montes Alpha Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile $15-18

I love this wine, made in the Rhone style.  It is intense in color (ruby red), floral notes with freshly shaved vanilla bean, clove and tobacco on the nose.  Overall it has a balance of acidity and body with soft and lush tannins.  91 Points awarded by both Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator.

2008 Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah $12-15

This is a dry Rose, made in Mediterranean style.  The fruit is pure with an overall vibrant structure.  Echoes of cherry and spice in the mouth, with a clean finish.  And how can you deny yourself this label?  It’s adorable.

If you can’t find these particular bottles in your area, that’s okay, just remember to try Syrah with your turkey banquet, you will enjoy the experience.

Post a Comment


  1. Yay…Syrah / Shiraz…..my favorite wines ! Thank-you, I am taking the list with me to the market.

    I want to say, we made your Maple Mustard- Glazed chicken ( Nov. 10 )last night and loved it ! This is another ‘will make again recipes ‘.

    I bet the people who insist Syrah and Shiraz are different also swear spuds and potatoes are different !

  2. Teri 2

    Shiraz is one of my favorite wines as well. Love the peppery finish and the way it opens up. Now that I’ve had a few true Rosé’s I’m hooked, their depth and complexity go with nearly any meal, they’re refreshing and are lovely to sip.

    Your wine choices are awesome!


  3. Barbie with a T 3

    If I cannot find those particular brands, I have a bottle of Messina Hof Shiraz barrel reserve, 2005 from our local Texas brewery. I have been saving it for Thanksgiving. It was very inexpensive. I recently purchased Reisling which was inexpensive also from your previous suggestions. It is Schmitt Sohne 2007 from Germany. I loved the blue bottle. It looks pretty on the front row of my wine cabinet. Sometimes I hate to drink the wines because the bottles are so pretty to display. But I love to drink wines. What a dilemma?? Thanks again for your expert advice about the Thanksgiving wine selections. I will look for them when shopping next time.

  4. Liz C. 4

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was really hoping you’d offer some wine suggestions before Turkey Day! Can’t wait to give them a try… We love Shiraz in this house.

  5. You make it sound so good I want to try some today! Thank you I know nothing of wine and your blog is excellant!

  6. ntsc 6

    We don’t drink wine with every dinner but my red choices are shiraz or a blend involving that grape. Australian mostly. Reds from California in the same price ranges give me horrible headaches the next day. Both Yellowtail and Rosemont have quite pleasant bottles in the under $10 range. I also like the Penfolds.

    I will be looking for your suggestions for Thanksgiving, 6 people who drink, one teatotaler and 6 children. However they will be there for four dinners with Thanksgiving with both red and white and a bit pricier than the other days. Probably a Reisling and a Shiraz/Shiraz-blend for Thanksgiving. We are doing two different turkeys as well.

  7. I never knew that about Syrah & Shiraz! Live and learn, huh?

    I’m having a very hard time deciding what to have with Thanksgiving dinner now! You’ve given us some great options.

  8. I’m one of those people…I thought they were two different varietals as well….and now I’m ashamed, but also paradoxically rather proud because a Real Live Vintner has recommended one of my favorite wines, the Koonunga Hill Shiraz. I LOVE that wine….almost as much as Red Knot, but not quite. But there’s still a whole lot of love, and a special section in my gullet that clears open for Koonunga on a Thursday night.

  9. Jane 9

    Thank you for continuing your informative primer on wines. I am the first to admit I’m an ignoramus when it comes to wine, and really appreciate your non-snobby, informative approach!

  10. Daziano 10

    You chose two Chilean wines!!! Hurray!!!! (I’ll spend Xmas in Chile, hope to visit some wineries)

    And that cherub is adorable ;)

  11. katie 11

    I have seen the koonunga and almost bought it, good to know I should grab some next time! Normally I am a little afraid of shiraz but the blends I can handle!

  12. Um, you need to write a book. Thanks so much. Going into the file!

  13. Thank you for all your help with the wine! There’s so much to learn!

  14. ELRA 14

    I am not good about wine, but I know excatly what I like and don’t like. I always like Shiraz! My favorite is still the one from BRIDELWOOD, Santa Ynez. But I, also like to try any Shiraz from any winery. I am heading to Costco (not today/Saturday, it will be nightmare to go there on the week-end) to buy the other two that you’ve sugessted. I bought the 2006 Montes Alpha Syrah, already. I just can’t resist, whenever I go to costco, always browse their wine section. For some reason I always look for Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Seems like I can’t afford not having this in house. So I keep buying a bottle. I have to browse your archives wether you’ve posted an article about this wine. Cheers,

  15. Cheryl 15

    Never have to even tell me to eat anything with it…syrah/shiraz a HUGE fave for me! Love the Cycles Gladiator syrah in particular. Truth told, the infamous two buck Chuck (well, it’s actually 3 here in VA) shiraz is completely enjoyable. Hmmm…what will we have tonight?

  16. Wow… I had no idea! I don’t usually drink red wine, but you make it sound so appealing!

  17. Excellent wine info.
    The terroirs are different, though some grapes may be the same, that is why they taste so different (different soil, as you explained!).
    We are doing a Reisling for turkey day, and I can not be without my easy to drink Southern French Cotes du Rhone wines. Light and nice. I am not a big fan of Australian wines yet, but I will give it time!

  18. Have a good weekend, Cathy !

  19. I just had to comment on your choice of Koonunga Hill. We just bought it (at Costco!) for the first time about 3 weeks ago. This wine is just plain good! Not just “good for the price.” We compared it with a $50 bottle of Pride wine that we opened for our anniversary and preferred the Koonunga Hill a thousand-fold. Great recommendation, and I will try out your other suggestions as well! (and thank you, too for the great clarification about Syrah/Shiraz. I have had the EXACT argument with people and some just do.not.get.it. : )

  20. tipper 20

    Everything I know about wine-I learned from you :)

  21. Will a couple of those bottles cure me? I’m still waiting for the ultimate make you feel better toddy, don’t you know any? You just gotta. Help me Obi Wan Kanobi….

  22. Great review and I am a HUGE fan of the Alpha M – Any of their wines are a winner if you ever get a chance to try the Cab or the purple angel you will not be dissapointed…

  23. Sandie 23

    Ooo, I appreciate the recommendations.

    I recently had a petite syrah that I was mad for. Unfortunately, the name escapes me at the moment…

  24. If I was a wine drinker I’s be thankful for this post. But I’m not nor are members of the family.

  25. WOW, great wine tips . Thanks so much for sharing


  26. Really helpful for those of us who entertain but don’t drink. I never know which wines to buy, and always ask for help at my local fine store.

  27. Tammy 27

    Thanks so much for the information…if only I could remember it for Thanksgiving…I would sound super smart if i did!

  28. Lorena 28

    Ah, the old Penfolds. Cheaper over there, than here at home! But, very nice, nonetheless.

  29. vanessa 29

    I love the Penfolds! And the cherub label is calling my naaaame!

  30. Thank you, wine goddess! Now I know Thanksgiving will be awesome even though 15 of us will be crammed into my daughter’s apartment for her first attempt at making The Meal.
    Everything tastes better with Syrah.

  31. Egghead 31

    Cathy this is really helpful. This takes care of wondering which wine to pick and hoping everyone will like what we have.

  32. Great choice with Syrah/Shiraz.

    I would say however that I DO understand people who prefer Shiraz to Syrah. The styles of wines produced are often very different – even though they are made from the same grape/

    Shiraz can be VERY FRUITY & extracted while Syrah can be more earthy & tannic.

    Either way, find a wine you like & ENJOY!


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