Petite Sirah: The Bold and Concentrated Red

Enter the bold world of Petite Sirah, a grape variety known for its power, depth, and rich, inky color. Despite its misleading name, there is nothing small or delicate about this grape, as it produces robust, full-bodied wines, packed with intense flavors and substantial tannins. Its affinity for warm climates and its bold character make Petite Sirah a favorite among red wine lovers.

A Brief History

The grape known as Petite Sirah originated in France in the mid-19th century, a cross between Syrah and Peloursin, created by botanist François Durif. While its presence in France has since dwindled to almost nonexistent, Petite Sirah (known as Durif in the rest of the world) found a new home in California in the late 19th century, where it thrives in the warm climate and has developed a devoted following.


Petite Sirah is known for its small, thick-skinned berries, which contribute to the high tannin and color concentration in the wine. The vine itself is highly resistant to disease, and it enjoys warm, dry climates where it can achieve full ripeness. Wines made from Petite Sirah are often known for their full body, high tannins, and deep, almost inky color.

Flavour Profile

Petite Sirah offers a rich, intense flavor profile. Common flavors include dark fruits like blackberry, blueberry, and plum, accompanied by notes of black pepper, chocolate, and licorice. Some wines may also present hints of savory spices, and due to their high tannin content, they often have a bold, grippy texture.

Different Styles of Wine

Petite Sirah is most commonly produced as a varietal wine, showcasing its intense, bold flavors. However, it is also used in blends to add structure, depth, and color. Winemakers might choose to control the grape’s strong tannins through various techniques, resulting in a somewhat softer, approachable style, though the wine always retains its robust character.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

Winemaking techniques can significantly influence the final style of Petite Sirah. Decisions regarding the duration of skin contact, fermentation temperatures, and aging vessel (stainless steel, American oak, or French oak) can either enhance or slightly temper the grape’s naturally powerful character. Given the high tannin levels, these wines are suitable for aging, which can soften the tannins and allow for the development of more complex flavors.

Important Regions

While Petite Sirah originated in France, it is now most commonly associated with California, especially regions like Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Lodi, where it excels in the warm, dry climate. Smaller plantings can be found in regions like Australia, Israel, and Brazil.

Food Pairing Suggestions

The robust nature of Petite Sirah calls for hearty, flavorful dishes. Think grilled red meats, BBQ ribs, game, or rich stews. The wine’s dark fruit flavors can also complement dishes with blackberries or plums, and its tannic structure can stand up to rich, fatty cuts of meat.

In the realm of red wines, Petite Sirah stands as a testament to boldness and concentration, offering an adventure into the world of robust and deeply satisfying wines.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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