Petite Sirah: The Rodney Dangerfield of Wines

Personally, I love the personification of wine. Appellation America does a terrific job of anthropomorphizing grape varietals, and a lot of them are pretty spot on. (In particular, their piece on Gruner Veltliner as a Euro-hipster makes me giggle every single time I see it.) Recently, a piece was published in The Wine Economist likening Petite Sirah to Rodney Dangerfield. Because it gets no respect, get it?

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Petite Sirah gets no respect!

Like Rodney Dangerfield, Petite Sirah gets no respect!

Now, I can think of lots of other grapes that are disparaged (Zinfandel and Merlot immediately come to mind), but the apathy towards Petite Sirah kind of baffles me. Here we have a deep, dark red with a cool back story, roots in the American history of wine, that is lush, full-flavored and easy to drink- what’s not to love?

A cross between Syrah and Peloursin originally hailing from southern France where it is now all but forgotten, Petite Sirah really bloomed after it was transplanted to the United States and was instrumental in satiating the American wine thirst during Prohibition. After the war, when producers realized their grapes were not, in fact, Syrah, Petite Sirah production went into decline, and much of the juice was relegated to lesser blends and jug table wines.

Fortunately, it seems we are in the midst of a Petite Sirah Renaissance! The organization known as PS I Love You exists solely for the purpose of reintroducing this awesome grape to the consumer, and it seems that lately more and more of these fabulous bottles are earning some outstanding scores from major wine publications.

Personally, I’ve always loved these wines. The inky, teeth-staining purple hues are lovely to behold in the glass, and the aromas are rich and heady. Though the intensity can be sometimes overwhelming (under no circumstance should you pair one with any delicate dish!), there are very few things that pair better with barbecue, so make sure you experiment with a few this grilling season. My favorites for everyday bottles are the Huntington and Castle Rock, but for something special, probably the best Petite Sirah in our store is the Charter Oak.

I’m also a major fan of the stellar red blends which feature this fab varietal; the Clayhouse Adobe Red is an outstanding field blend of just about everything good in California: Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cabernet, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Malbec. And don’t miss the latest, Jam which marries the boldness of Petite Sirah with the elegance of Petit Verdot, a sure summertime favorite!

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