This venerable red varietal is best known for producing France's noble Rhô̂ne Valley reds— such as Cô̂te-Rô̂tie and Hermitage—that age for decades. Australians call it "Shiraz" (a name that's supposedly closer to the presumed Indo-European origin of the grape), grow more of it than any other red grape, and have made it their most famous wine: Penfolds Grange. California is just starting to get into the act, planting new vineyards and importing winemakers who can tame the tannins and coax out Syrah's earthy flavors. Syrah vines produce dark, blackish berries with thick skins, resulting in typically dark, rich, dense, medium- to full-bodied wines with distinctive pepper, spice, and fruit flavors (particularly cherry, black current, and blackberry). Alcohol levels are typically high and acidity is moderate to low. Complex Syrahs often exhibit the bouquet of leather, tar, or roasted nuts; wine made from an extremely ripe harvest tends to have a jammy sweetness. Tannins can be firm in young, concentrated Syrahs, but most medium-bodied ones are usually smooth, with little tannin bite. Syrah pairs well with grilled meats, full-flavored stews and games, and peppery or spicy dishes. It is not unusual for Syrahs to require years of bottle aging before they reach a pleasant balance. Syrah is one of the four red wines (the others are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot) that make up the nine classical varietals (there are five white classical varietals: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon.)