One of the most successful varieties worldwide, Syrah or Shiraz (they are the same) produces world-class wines in many corners of the globe. Recent DNA mapping shows it almost certainly originates in France rather than Shiraz in ancient Persia, a popular misconception. Usually dark, muscular stuff with a streak of black pepper character and a plum-fruited core, it’s a grape that ages very well too, taking on complexity with age. Australian Shiraz will be very familiar to most. But it's well worth discovering the different personalities this variety takes on in wines from the Rhône Valley, Languedoc, South Africa, Chile and California. And of course, some of New Zealand's finest reds are now made from Syrah, particularly from the Hawke's Bay region.