I just turned 21 and I want to try a nice shiraz
What would you recommend? Preferably under 30 dollars, but if it is really spectacular, I wouldn't mind going to about 50
I'm assuming that since you used "shiraz" you're specifically looking for something Australian? I'm a fan of John Duval Wines and of Two Hands. You should be able to find John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity for about $35. The Two Hands wines are more expensive but you might be able to find them under your $50 limit. I haven't had much that I'd recommend in the under $30 price range, but hopefully others will be able to point you to some. Happy Birthday!
May I recommend Castle Rock 2004 Petite Sirah. It is a wonderful wine, very smooth on the palate with flavors of deep berries and a light spice as it slides down your throat. The smooth warm feeling feels quite nice if you ask me. It's very much a sipping wine but goes excellent with some light comfort dishes :)
Fyi, it's not a shiraz or syrah but I just wanted to point out a wonderful recommendation!
Boy, there are so many. John Duval and Two Hands are both good suggestions, if you like their styles. The Entity is relatively difficult to find; I don't think production was more than a couple of thousand cases. The Garden Series from Two Hands is great, though pushes $60; they tend to sell out pretty quickly and may not be that easy to find.
A couple of others, which may be slightly easier to find:
Torbreck Woodcutter's ~$20
Penfolds St. Henri ~$40 - Not your typical Aussie Shiraz, as it sees zero new oak and is relatively restrained.
"I honestly don't get it. How can one wine seriously go from 5 dollars to 100 dollars?"
-land value/location of the vineyard
-quality/age/origin of the vines
-reputation/qualification of the vineyard management
[all add up in the cost of the fruit]
-skill, reputation of the winemaker
-cost/quality/method of the vinification process and materials (ie-barrel type, cost, time in barrel)
-reputation of the winery
-points awarded by serious reviewers for this and previous vintages.
-market conditions for that level/quality of wine
All the above affect the price of the wine (and probably some I missed). But..... the more important thing to know is that the $100 dollar bottle may not taste to you like 20 times the taste of the $5 bottle. It's unlikely that an experienced taster would not find the $100 bottle 'better' than the $5 one (it's nearly impossible to produce a really good quality wine at $5) but how MUCH better is highly variable. The lines get really blurry when the lower priced bottle is $20 plus.
Two vinicultural areas of Australia consistently produce that country's most interesting shiraz.... The McLaren Vale (Fleurieu Peninsula) and the Barossa Valley....
Vintages to look for:
BAROSSA: 2001, 2002. The 2005's are looking pretty good too. 2003 and 2004 also produced nice wines, perhaps not as concentrated as the 01's and 02's. Generally avoid 97, 99 and especially 2000.
McLAREN/ FLEURIEU: 2001 and 2002 are very reliable vintages... 2005 is probably next preference...
Since you're looking not to be disappointed, restrict your search these two regions in the listed vintages, vast preference is for the 01's or 02's (over the more recent vintages).... If you have a choice, go with Barossa, the vines on average are usually older..... See what your wine vendor(s) can offer you in your price range.
Any of these should be decanted for at least an hour.
A tasty, well-made, and inexpensive (sub $20) shiraz is Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale. If you find that you favor shiraz it could become a regular drinker for you.