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What’s the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz?

1 March 2010 2 Comments

Paul from Berkley asked: My wife and I both like these reds but she prefers Shiraz and I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon. Can you explain the inherent differences between these two wines?

Dear Paul, While both Cabernet Sauvignon(CS) and Shiraz usually produce big red wines, there are a few differences between the two. CS is probably the most well known red grape in the USA, while Shiraz has that status in Australia. Shiraz is also called Syrah in many parts of the world. The Australians and South Africans started calling Syrah Shiraz centuries ago for reasons known only to them!  CS is frequently described as having aromas of blackberry, cassis, leather and mint. Shiraz is peppery, smoky, spicy and meaty. CS is frequently blended to make some of the best Bordeaux wines. Shiraz is usually all alone except of course Down Under, where it’s frequently blended with CS.

Both CS and Shiraz/Syrah are tough red grapes that make some of the harshest wines produced but can make wines of great power and majesty. 

All the best,



  • Hakan Holm said:

    What do you recommend as the best meals for enjoying a young CS?
    Thank you,

  • WC (author) said:

    Hi Hakan,

    The best pairings for a young Cabernet Sauvignon are full-flavored meats such as beef and lamb. Be careful not to spice the meat too much or the heat from the spices will accentuate the tannins in the wine and make it taste more alcoholic.

    Have fun!

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