Petite Sirah vs Pinot Noir

petite sirah vs pinot noir wine comparison infographic

Despite similar sounding names, Petite Sirah vs Pinot Noir are two distinctive red wines.

Petite Sirah has more color, tannin, and body than Pinot Noir. Petite Sirah is black-fruited. Pinot Noir has red fruit, higher acid, and a lighter body.

TL;DR: If you like Pinot Noir’s easy-drinking, mellow tannin, and bright red fruit and dislike big red wines, you’re probably not going to enjoy Petite Sirah. These are very different red wine styles.

Here’s what you need to know about Petite Sirah vs Pinot Noir.

Petite Sirah Basics: A Bold Gem

what does petite sirah wine taste like - petite sirah vs pinot noir

Petite Sirah, originally from France, is now closely associated with the California wine industry. Petite Sirah showcases a bold character.

Petite Sirah, known for its full body, exhibits flavors of blackberries, plums, and a touch of black pepper and black licorice, creating a rich and complex palate. Check out more about Petite Sirah wines.

Fun Wine Fact: Petite Sirah is sometimes labeled as Durif, named after its French botanist creator, Dr. François Durif.

Pinot Noir Basics: A Burgundian Classic

what does pinot noir wine taste like infographic - pinot noir vs petite sirah

Pinot Noir is originally from the Burgundy region of France and today you’ll find wines made from Pinot Noir made around the world, including Oregon, California, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Pinot Noir is an aromatic red wine grape known for its red cherry and cranberry aromas, along with a floral profile. (Check out this comprehensive guide to Pinot Noir wines.)

Fun Wine Fact: Pinot Noir can go be Red Burgundy. If you ask for a Red Burgundy at a restaurant or wine shop, you’ll get a Pinot Noir.

Wine Comparison: Petite Sirah vs. Pinot Noir

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir.

CharacteristicsPetite SirahPinot Noir
HueDark purple to inky blackPale ruby
AromasBlackberry, Blueberry, black pepper, licoriceRed berries, red currant, wet leaf,
spice, mushroom
TanninsMedium to HighLow to Medium minus
AcidMediumMedium to Medium Plus
Alcohol (%)14-16%12-14%
BodyFullLight to medium
IntensityPronouncedModerate plus to pronounced
Key Growing RegionsCalifornia, France, AustraliaBurgundy (France), Oregon, Sonoma
and Coastal California, Chile, Australia, New Zealand
Classic PairingsGrilled meats, hearty stewsCream sauces, risottos, white meat
Price Range$10-$50$10-$80

Petite Sirah Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Petite Sirah tends to be on the drier side, offering bold and dry styles.
  • Alcohol: Petite Sirah wines typically have a higher alcohol content, ranging from around 14% to 16% ABV.
  • Body: Petite Sirah is known for its full body, providing a robust and intense drinking experience, much fuller than Pinot Noir wine.
  • Tannin: Petite Sirah will have high tannin levels, much higher than Pinot Noir, that are rasping.
  • Acid: Petite Sirah showcases balanced acidity, contributing to its bold character, in the medium to high range, slightly lower than Pinot Noir.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Petite Sirah boasts a rich and intense dark fruit profile with notes of blackberry, plum, and black pepper and licorice.

Pinot Noir Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Pinot Noir is almost always made in a dry style unless it is an inexpensive bulk wine
  • Alcohol: Pinot Noir wines typically feature moderate alcohol content, a little less than Petite Sirah wines, around 12%-14% ABV
  • Acid: Pinot Noir tends to have medium to medium (+) acid, maybe a little higher than Petite Sirah.
  • Body: Pinot Noir is lighter in body than Petite Sirah, medium or medium (-)
  • Tannins: Pinot Noir tends to have low to medium tannins that are very smooth and much less pronounced than Petite Sirah wine.
  • Flavor and Aroma Intensity: Vibrant red fruit flavors like cranberry, raspberry, and red cherry, accompanied by floral notes and sometimes even a wet earth and tea leaf.

Are Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir Similar?

Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir share certain characteristics. Both are dry red wines that are often oaked, giving them spice and toasty notes.

What Is the Difference Between Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir?

Petite Sirah showcases a bold and powerful character with intense dark fruit flavors and robust tannins, while Pinot Noir leans towards a lighter, more elegant style with delicate red fruit notes and softer tannins.

Petite Sirah vs. Pinot Noir: Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

soup - petite sirah vs pinot noir
  • Pinot Noir is a more delicate wine with nuanced red cherry flavors. Look to dishes that can use a little brightening up, like risotto, salads, and roasted white meats.
  • Petite Sirah Food Pairing: Petite Sirah’s spicey and dark fruit flavors make it a versatile companion for a variety of dishes, including grilled meats and stews. This is a wine you’ll want to pair with protein and fat.

Discover More:
Red Wine and Cheese Pairing: What You Need to Know
Pinot Noir Cheese Pairing Guide

Both Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir benefit from a slightly cooler serving temperature. Chill them in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes before serving Petite Sirah, while Pinot Noir can be served slightly cooler, around 10-15 minutes after refrigeration.

Which Is More Expensive, Petite Sirah vs. Pinot Noir?

When comparing the prices of Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir, it’s natural to think about price.

Petite Sirah Cost

  • Entry-level Petite Sirah wines are typically affordable, ranging from $10-$15 per bottle.
  • Mid-tier Petite Sirah wines are $20-$30. These showcase regional differences and the hand of the winemaker.
  • Premium Petite Sirah wines are $35-$50+

Pinot Noir Cost

  • Pinot Noir wines are widely available at various price points. You’ll find budget-friendly Pinot Noir starting around $5 USD. These wines, while more affordable, are typically made in an off-dry (slightly sweet) style.
  • Pinot Noir starts to get interesting around $18-$25 USD.
  • Premium Pinot Noir wines, sourced from renowned regions, can easily cost you $45 – $80+ USD.

Which Is Better Petite Sirah or Pinot Noir?

If you favor bold, intense red wines with a powerful presence, Petite Sirah will be the better choice. If you appreciate lighter, more delicate red wines with nuanced flavors, Pinot Noir is the superior option.

Personal Note: I don’t keep Petite Sirah in my wine cellar. It’s big nature and higher alcohol level means that it really pairs well with heavier cuisine, foods that I don’t normally prepare and enjoy at home. I do keep Pinot Noir wines, however. And think they’re delicious all on their own as cocktail wines.

Final Thoughts – Petite Sirah or Pinot Noir?

Both Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir have distinctive wine profiles that fall on opposite ends of the red wine spectrum.

As always, I’m a big advocate for experiencing these two varietals side by side. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir, invite friends over, and enjoy an evening of sipping.

Petite Sirah offers a bold and robust drinking experience, making it a fantastic choice for those seeking a powerful red wine. If you’re in the mood for a more delicate and nuanced wine, Pinot Noir provides an elegant and refined option.

Thirsty for More?

I’m a big believer in doing side-by-side tastings to boost your wine knowledge. Here’s how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

Check out this post on Cabernet Sauvignon vs Merlot, another popular red wine, along with Cabernet Sauvignon vs Malbec, and Shiraz vs Merlot.

You should be able to find delicious wines at every price point. Check out this post on how to find great wines under $50.

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