Gamay vs Syrah

HueBright red to violetDeep Ruby to Purple-black
AromasRed berries, banana, floralDark fruits, black pepper, smoke
AcidMedium to highMedium
Alcohol (%)12-13%13.5%-15%
BodyLight to mediumFull
Key Growing RegionsBeaujolais (France)Rhône Valley, Australia, California
Classic PairingsPork, grilled sausages, charcuterieGrilled meats, game, spicy dishes
Price Range$10-$40$10-$50

Gamay vs Syrah is a delightful red wine comparison for two wines on the opposite end of the wine spectrum.

Syrah typically presents a bold body with robust dark fruit flavors and black pepper, while Gamay has a lighter body with red fruit and distinctive floral notes.

TL;DR: If you enjoy the easy-drinking nature of Gamay, you may not like Syrah. If you crave the power of Syrah, Gamay will probably seem weak and insipid.

Syrah Basics: A Powerful Red

what's syrah wine taste like - infographic - gamay vs syrah

Syrah, also known as Shiraz in some regions, has gained global recognition for its bold and versatile nature. Its roots trace back to France, yet it has become synonymous with Shiraz in Australia.

Syrah boasts a robust flavor profile with intense black fruit notes, like black cherry and blackberry, and a hint of spice. It can even have notes of olive and a smokiness.

Syrah is known as a powerful wine. Australia is one of the major exporters of Syrah wine, offering options from entry-level to premium.

Gamay: Easy-drinking Red

what's gamay wine taste like infographic - gamay vs pinot noir

From the Beaujolais region of France just south of Pinot Noir’s Burgundy, most everyday Gamay wines have a lively and fruit-forward flavor profile. It offers juicy red fruit flavors, including cherry and cranberry, with a subtle hint of sweetness. The wine’s moderate acidity adds a refreshing and vibrant quality to the overall taste. Gamay’s tannins are soft and gentle, contributing to its smooth and easy-drinking nature. Check out this full post on Gamay wine.

Fun Fact: Gamay’s earned a reputation as being the first wine of the new harvest season. It goes by the term: Beaujolais Nouveau. Here’s why Beaujolais Nouveau’s so famous.

Wine Comparison: Gamay vs Syrah

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Gamay and Syrah wines.

Gamay Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Gamay is typically made as a dry table wine.
  • Alcohol: Gamay will have medium alcohol, lower than Syrah.
  • Acid: Gamay wines medium to medium plus acid, lower than most Syrah wines.
  • Body: Gamay is a lighter-bodied red wine.
  • Tannin: Expect your Gamay to have low tannins, making it a friendly, approachable wine.
  • Flavors: Gamay forefront ripe red fruit, like raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. Expect a distinctive floral note. Depending on the winemaking style, you may get cola, banana, or even bubblegum.

Syrah Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Syrah is typically produced in a dry style, offering minimal residual sugar.
  • Alcohol: Syrah wines generally have a moderate to high alcohol content, ranging from around 13% to 15% ABV, higher than most Gamay wines.
  • Body: Known for its bold body, Syrah delivers a robust experience. This is a big wine.
  • Tannins: Syrah often features higher tannin levels compared to Gamay, contributing to a grippy mouthfeel.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Syrah exhibits robust flavors and aromas, with intense dark fruit notes and hints of spice.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes blackberry, black pepper, dark chocolate, and occasionally a touch of smoked meat or leather.

Are Gamay and Syrah Similar?

Gamay and Syrah are both red wines that can be oaked. Here’s what oak adds to wine.

What Is the Difference Between Gamay and Syrah

Syrah typically offers a heavier body with intense dark fruit notes, peppery flavors, and more tannins, whereas Gamay provides a light, easy-drinking red wine experience with bright red fruit and distinctive floral aromas.

Gamay vs Syrah Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

grilled steak - syrah vs gamay wine

Syrah Food Pairing: Syrah’s bold dark fruit flavors and spiciness make it an ideal match for a range of dishes, including grilled meats, game, and spicy cuisine. Think big, heavy dishes to pair with this bold, heavy wine.

Gamay Food Pairing: Gamay, with its lighter body and fruit-forward quality, makes it an ideal pairing partner for foods that could use a little acid pick-me-up. Think turkey, white bean soup, tofu, noodle salads.

Personal Note: I feel Grenache is more of a summertime cuisine wine, while Syrah warms you up on dark winter nights.

Both Syrah and Gamay are best enjoyed at a temperature slightly below room temperature. Store them in a cool, dark place before serving.

Note: You may need to decant Syrah and some fuller-bodied styles of Gamay. Give your glass a good swirl if they seem closed on the nose to help them open up.

Which Is More Expensive, Gamay vs Syrah?

Gamay and Syrah differ in price points on the export market.

QualityPrice RangePrice Range
Gamay$12 – $25$25 – $40+
Syrah$10 – $20$25 – $50+

Producers craft Gamay and Syrah in the extreme-value price band. You can find both under $5 USD. Moving up the quality ladder, Syrah tends to be slightly higher priced than Gamay thanks to more costly wine growing and winemaking techniques under premium labels.

Helpful Tip: Here’s how a bottle of wine gets priced. This post is a little nerdy, but it’s quite complicated and nuanced depending on where you are in the world and where you’re buying your wine.

Which Is Better, Gamay or Syrah?

If you’re looking for a big, rich dark fruited wine with notes of smoke and spice, then try a Syrah. If you prefer a lighter red wine with juicy strawberries and cherry, then Gamay is probably the wine for you.

Personal Note: I’m more of a Syrah fan and don’t seek out Gamay, but many of my friends do.

Final Thoughts – Gamay or Syrah?

When it comes to Syrah vs Gamay, both are distinctive wines that work for different occasions. 

  • Have a steak dinner planned? Go for Syrah.
  • Enjoying a Caesar salad on the patio? Grab a Gamay.

These two wines are best compared side-by-side, more so than most. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Gamay and Syrah, invite a few friends over, and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping.

Thirsty for More?

Here’s a guide on how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Explore this post on Merlot vs Grenache, another popular red wine, along with Malbec vs Syrah, and Shiraz vs Merlot.

You can discover delicious wines at every price point. Explore this post on finding great red wines under $50.

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