One of the world's most popular grapes is also one of the most blendable. 

Que Syrah, Syrah

The syrah grape has been grown in France's Rh“ne region for at least 2,000 years, and it continues to be one of the world's most popular grapes. It also grows well in Australia (where it is known as shiraz) and in California. Syrah can be used alone to make a varietal wine, which is generally full-bodied, mouth filling and assertive, with bold flavors of black pepper and spice. However, when syrah is blended with other grapes, it can result in something quite different; often these blends are leaner, lighter and have great sophistication and elegance. Here is a selection of affordable, ready-to-drink syrah blends.

1998 Abbotts Cirrus CabardŠs ($12) — This beautifully balanced, non-filtered wine from the South of France is a mouthwatering blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. It's medium-bodied with aromas of cherries and spice. Try it with roast beef or chicken cooked on the rotisserie.

1999 Francis Coppola Rosso ($10) — A medium-bodied California wine with excellent structure. It's wonderful with grilled sausages, veal parmigiana, creamy pastas or other rich and moderately spicy fare.

1997 Cline C“tes d'Oakley Vin Rouge ($8.99) — An exceptional bargain, this California red is made with a blend of grapes used in the Rh“ne region of France. In addition to syrah, the wine contains Carignane, MouvŠdre, Grenache, Cinsault and Alicante Bouschet. It's lean and elegant with a ripe cherry nose and bold acidity. Try it with grilled veal chops or roast pork loin.

1999 Domaine de la GautiŠre ($9.99) — This syrah blend from Provence is medium-light with fresh berry flavors. It's terrific with most pastas, soups and stews. It's light enough to serve with salmon and tuna, too.

1999 Wolf Blass "Red Label," ($14.99) — From South Australia, this blend of syrah and cabernet sauvignon is rich and full-bodied with flavors of cocoa and cassis. Despite its youth and fullness, it's ready to drink now, and is a lovely accompaniment to leg of lamb or loin of venison.

1999 St. Hallett Gamekeeper's Reserve ($11.99) — A robust syrah blend from the Barossa Valley, this Aussie red is lighter than the Wolf Blass, and can be poured with roast chicken and grilled salmon, as well as meatless dishes such as eggplant Parmesan.

1995 Ermitage du Pic St. Loup, ($11.99) — A nonfiltered wine from the Languedoc region, this French red is beautifully balanced, with flavors of ripe blackberries and spice. Try it with fettucine Alfredo, pasta with sausages or even a simple croque

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