Pinotage vs Shiraz: What You Need to Know

Characteristics Pinotage Shiraz
Hue Deep red Deep red to purple
Color Red Red
Aromas Dark fruit, coffee, smoky Blackberry, plum, peppery
Tannins High Medium to high
Acid Medium (-) Medium
Alcohol (%) 13-15% 13-15%
Body Full Full
Intensity Pronounced Pronounced
Key Growing Regions South Africa Australia, Rhône Valley
Classic Pairings Grilled meats, spicy dishes Barbecue, game, roasted meats
Price Range $15-$40 $15-$50

When it comes to red wines, some are widely recognized, like Shiraz, while others are often times a surprise, like Pinotage.

Both Pinotage and Shiraz are full-bodied red wines. Pinotage has distinctive notes of dark berries, coffee, and a hint of smokiness. Shiraz expresses blackberry, plum, peppery, and olive. Both Pinotage and Shiraz pair well with heavier dishes, like stews and grilled meats.

Here’s what you need to know about Pinotage vs Shiraz.

Pinotage Basics: A Bold South African Gem

pinotage wine profile - pinotage vs Merlot

Pinotage, hailing from South Africa, isn’t as widely known as other red wines. Often associated with regions like Stellenbosch and Paarl, Pinotage offers a robust flavor profile with pronounced dark fruit notes and a subtle earthiness. Pinotage is well-known for its full body, similar to Shiraz. (For a deeper dive into Pinotage wines, explore here.)

Fun Wine Fact: Pinotage is a new wine grape that’s only been around for about 100 years.

Shiraz Basics: Bold and Spicy

Fun Wine Fact: Shiraz goes by Syrah in Australia, but it’s made from the same wine grape.

shiraz wine profile - pinotage vs shiraz
Grape Profiles – 61

Shiraz, or Syrah, is originally from France and today you’ll find wines made from Shiraz made around the world, to include Australia, France, Chile, Argentina, Italy, and California. Known for its spiciness, Shiraz is a full-bodied red wine. (Check out this comprehensive guide to Shiraz wine.)

Wine Comparison: Pinotage vs. Shiraz

Here’s a quick side-by-side that covers the most common styles of Pinotage and Shiraz.

pinotage vs shiraz infographic

Pinotage Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Pinotage is usually made in a dry style.
  • Alcohol: Pinotage wines generally have a moderate to high alcohol content, ranging from around 13% to 15% ABV.
  • Acid: Pinotage tends to have medium (-) acid, lower than Shiraz, giving it a plusher mouthfeel
  • Body: Known for its medium (+) to full body, similar to Shiraz
  • Tannins: Pinotage tends to have firm tannins, like Shiraz, contributing to its structure and aging potential.
  • Flavors: The flavor profile often includes dark berries, coffee, and a hint of smokiness, meat, or leather.

Shiraz Wine Profile

  • Sweetness: Shiraz is almost always made in a dry style unless it is an inexpensive bulk wine
  • Alcohol: Shiraz wines typically feature a moderate to high alcohol content, sometimes a little higher than Pinotage, ranging from around 13% to 15% ABV.
  • Acid: Shiraz tends to have medium to medium (+) acid, higher than Pinotage.
  • Body: Shiraz boasts a bold and full-bodied profile, accompanied by firm tannins.
  • Tannins: Shiraz tends to have pronounced tannins, contributing to its structure and aging potential.
  • Flavor: Rich flavors of blackberry, black plum, pepper, and olive

Helpful Tip: If you’re unsure about serving temperatures, here’s a breakdown of wine serving temperatures for different wine styles and occasions.

Are Pinotage and Shiraz Similar?

Pinotage and Shiraz are both red wines crafted in a dry style. Both wines will exhibit dark plum and cherry notes. Both wines have a firm tannin structure and a full body.

What Is the Difference Between Pinotage and Shiraz?

Pinotage showcases more non-fruit aromas and flavors than Shiraz, such as meat, smoke, leather, and rubber.

Pinotage vs Shiraz Winemaking

Both Pinotage and Shiraz can be oaked to impart toast, vanilla, or mocha flavors. Pinotage, however, is more challenging to work with in the winery than Shiraz, and winemakers need to be vigilant with fermentation temperatures. Without careful monitoring, Pinotage can develop off-putting rubbery notes.

Helpful Tip: Here’s what oak adds to wine.

Pinotage vs Shiraz Food Pairings and Serving Temperature

pinotage vs shiraz wine - steak

Both Pinotage and Shiraz share that bold and robust character, making them excellent companions for hearty dishes, grilled meats, and flavorful cheeses.

Both Pinotage and Shiraz are best enjoyed at a slightly cool temperature. Place them in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

Note: You may need to decant both Pinotage and Shiraz if they are made in a fuller-bodied style. If your wine seems closed when you first take a sip, give it a good swirl or let it sit for about 10 minutes to see if it opens up.

Discover More:
Shiraz Cheese Pairing Guide

Which Is More Expensive, Pinotage vs Shiraz?

Pinotage and Shiraz differ in price points on the export market. Pinotage may not be as widely available as Shiraz, but entry-level Pinotage does exist depending on your location.

Pinotage Cost

Entry-level Pinotage wines are generally affordable, ranging from $10 to $18 per bottle. Premium Pinotage wines can reach higher price points, around $25 to $40, offering more complexity and depth.

Helpful Wine Buying Tip: Pinotage is one of those wines where you always want to purchase the more expensive bottle. Because of how challenging it is to work with, poorly made Pinotage is truly awful. Check out more in the full Pinotage guide.

Shiraz Cost

Shiraz wines are widely available at various price points. You’ll find budget-friendly Shiraz starting under $5 USD. These wines, while more affordable, are typically made in an off-dry (slightly sweet) style.

Shiraz starts to get interesting around $18-$20 USD. Premium Shiraz wines, sourced from renowned regions, can easily cost you $80+ USD, well above premium Pinotage wines.

Which Is Better, Pinotage or Shiraz?

If you enjoy bold and robust red wines with tannin, meat, and tobacco, Pinotage is the better choice for you. If you prefer a more fruit-driven wine, then Shiraz may be a better option. But if you love all styles of Shiraz, you’re likely to enjoy Pinotage, too.

Final Thoughts – Pinotage or Shiraz?

pinotage vs cabernet sauvignon - wine cork

I appreciate both Pinotage and Shiraz and have bottles of both wines in my cellar. In my view, choosing between Pinotage and Shiraz requires more careful consideration of your preferences. Shiraz is easier to find in most wine markets and generally offers a decent drinking experience regardless of how much you paid for the bottle.

Pinotage needs you to think a little more about what you want. From what label you buy to how you’re going to pair this unique red wine.

I always recommend organizing a side-by-side tasting to fully appreciate the differences between these two wines. Grab two bottles of similarly priced Pinotage and Shiraz, invite a few friends over, and enjoy an evening of swirling and sipping.

Thirsty for More?

I believe in enhancing your wine knowledge through side-by-side tastings. Here’s a guide on how to host your own wine tasting for beginners.

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