man on mobileWhen I'm giving a wine talk there will inevitably be questions from the audience keen to understand more about the wine they've just bought. While I don't claim to know all the answers there are a few questions I get asked frequently – which usually starts with “Why do the French spell it Syrah and the Aussies Shiraz?”.

pile of newspapersWell my answer to that is yes Shiraz can also be spelt Syrah - it's the same grape variety just grown somewhere with a different spelling system.

Nobody is quite sure why the spelling changed when immigrants took cuttings of Syrah grape vines down-under but it's probably down to the fact that, until this century, most people couldn't write, and the few that were able to, did so using a spelling system based on how they heard the word being pronounced. Or possibly how they saw someone else spelling it, or even if they just felt like trying out a few alternatives now and again – just think of the many ways William Shakespeare spelt his name, or is that Bill Shackspar?

Another commonly asked questions is “Which type of wine, on the whole, is most likely to make my mouth feel dry: white, rosé or red?”.

Aussie ShirazTricky one this. It's red wine. Well it's all down to the tannin. Tannin is found in grape pips and grape skins – and it's the skins that give red wine its high tannin levels because these are added to the mix when you make red wine. Rosé wine has the skins taken out of the brew after only a short time so the tannin (and colour) is lower. In white wine the skins aren't used at all, so consequently it generally has a lower tannin content and so feels less drying when you drink it.

So now you know.

PG Wine Reviews

SPAR Mendoza Argentinean Malbec 2017
£6.50 SPAR
Cranberries, blackpepper and violets.

SPAR French Costieres de Nimes 2016, red
£6.50 SPAR (down from £7.50 until October 13)
Pizza plonk with cherry and toffee flavours.

Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carmenere 2017
£7 Co-op
Plum, kirsch, dark chocolate with a chewy liquorice edge that stops it being sweet.

Yellow Tail Australian Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
£7 Tesco
Spicy blackcurrant and mocha with a woody edge.

Les Perruches French Vouvray 2017, white
£8.50 Co-op
Tart apple and light brown sugar flavour.

This article also appeared as Paula's Wines of the Week on