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.
For the record...... I thought Jim Beam was 80 proof. From what I've seen "proof" is double the alcohol %, so that would translate to 40% alcohol by volume. Even Mollydooker (BIG Aussie Shiraz) is only 16%. I also find that the 'heat' of wine is not just a function of the alcohol % but of how the wine is balanced with fruit and other components. All that said, I DO find many people who can't handle a really big Cab, Zin or Syrah.
I'm not a very seasoned wine drinker especially at my age, so I really don't know what's good or what to expect and equally perplexed by oenophile lexicology (I really don't taste green pepper, leather, oak, or black current, nor do I know what they taste like).
Been sipping on the Jip Jip for the last week or so. It's extremely fruity, almost like a strawberry jam, compared to most wines I remember sipping as a kid, and despite the strong alcohol content, it's pretty appealing.
If you live in an area where there is a nice wine bar you may want to go see if you can try a few. Shiraz or syrah vary enormously depending on where they're grown, and winemaking techniques. A lot of the ones suggested so far are from the Barossa Valley in Australia which is hot. The wines tend to be very "big" and jammy. I personally prefer a more elegant style syrah. Something from a cooler climate like Victoria. But your best bet is to find a retailer who you can trust since we have no idea what is on the shelf at your local wine store.
One day if you want to treat yourself maybe try Penfolds Grange, you would have to find it first but make sure it has been cellared for around ten years as it ages beautifully. Another toward the top of the heap would be Basket Press Shiraz by Rockford from the Barossa Valley.
Oh and by the way the Margeret River in Western Australia is also a great area for shiraz.