Shiraz wine refers to the wine historically produced around the city of Shiraz in Iran. By the 9th century, the city of Shiraz had already established a reputation for producing the finest wine in the Middle East, and was Iran's wine capital. The export of Shiraz wine to India by European merchants in the 17th century has been documented. As described by enthusiastic English and French travellers to the region in the 17th to 19th centuries, the wine grown close to the city was of a more dilute character due to irrigation, while the best Shiraz wines were actually grown in terraced vineyards around the village of Khoullar. These wines were white and existed in two different styles: dry wines for drinking young, and sweet wines meant for aging. The latter wines were compared to "an old sherry" (one of the most prized European wines of the day), and at five years of age were said to have a fine bouquet and nutty flavour. The dry white Shiraz wines (but not the sweet ones) were fermented with significant stem contact, which should have made these wines rather phenolic, i.e., rich in tannins.
While travellers have described the wines as white, there seem to be no ampelographic descriptions of the vines or grapes. Marco Polo made mention of the wine, and other classical accounts describe vines trained by pulleys and weights to grow up one side of a house and down another.
In modern Iran, no Shiraz wine is officially produced today. The vineyards of Iran are instead used for the production of table grapes and raisins. Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, there were up to 300 wineries in Iran; now there are believed to be thousands, but they are illegal and underground. As a whole, Iran is not a wine producing country – obviously – but rumour has it that villagers that live nearby Shiraz produce small quantities in secret.
Shiraz wine and the city of Shiraz are not connected with the modern-day red grape variety "Shiraz", a homonym used in Australia and some other countries for the grape variety Syrah, which apparently originates from northern Rhône valley in France.
- Entry on "Persia" in J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p. 512-513, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0-19-860990-6
- Hugh Johnson, "The Story of Wine", New Illustrated Edition, p. 58 & p. 131, Mitchell Beazley 2004, ISBN 1-84000-972-1
- Lichine, Alexis (1967). Alexis Lichine's Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits. London: Cassell & Company Ltd. p. 495.
- Entry on "Shiraz" in J. Robinson (ed), "The Oxford Companion to Wine", Third Edition, p. 627, Oxford University Press 2006, ISBN 0-19-860990-6
- "Syrah". Vitis International Variety Catalogue. Julius Kühn-Institut - Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants. Retrieved December 8, 2009.