Syrah/Shiraz is to wine grapes as George Clooney is to the entire world. Dark, handsome, popular and better with age. Need we say more?

It had a meteoric rise to prominence, then a steep fall from glory. Syrah was the grape that could “out-Merlot Merlot”; it became "the wine harder to get rid of than syphilis." U.S. consumers continue to hold their distance on one of the varietals easiest to grow and turn into wine. It’s a problem winemakers still hope to overcome—and some U.S. growers are making it a major target for improvement.

Syrah or Shiraz is the same grape grown in different regions. There have been many legends and stories that have this grape originating in places as varied as Greece, Albania, Persia or Syria, but thanks to recent DNA testing, we now know that this is a French grape coming from the marriage of two minor French vines, Monduese Blanche and Dureza. The record is still confused on how ancient the grape is; it matches many of the characteristics of grapes such as Allobrogica from the writings in the 1st century AD by Pliny the elder, but the first documented use of the name Syrah was not until 1781. The name Syrah likely comes from the Latin term serus meaning late-ripening. The first use of the name “Shiraz” dates back to the 1830s and was likely just an anglicized version of the original name. Today it comes down to preference and regional tradition.

Broaden your Super Bowl menu with this spicy southwestern stew. This twist on the more traditional ground beef chili with the introduction of beef brisket or bottom round will keep your crew well-fed and cheering throughout the day. Try this recipe from WineTable Executive Chef Harry Haff and pair it with a cool-climate syrah or shiraz from Australia or Washington State, a full-bodied, cool-climate zinfandel or an oak-aged Lemberger from Washington State, Germany or Austria.