Tags: Grape & Wine Varietals

Shiraz and Cabernet grape varieties provide two of the world's most popular and treasured wines. While they have many commonalities, they also have differences that make each experience distinct.

So, what are the differences between Shiraz and Cabernet?

Many people are curious about their differences to evaluate which one is the best. Which wine is the greatest is entirely subjective. Every wine is unique, just like your tastebuds. It all comes down to personal preference. Some individuals may love arguing tannins and delicate nuances that don't even sound tasty when described, but it ultimately boils down to whether you like the taste.

However, pitting these two outstanding wines against one other seems almost unjust. However, learning more about the many wines that clutter the shop shelves may help you make a wiser decision.

The Primary Distinctions between Shiraz and Cabernet

1. Berry Size

The size of the grapes is significantly different, which aids viticulturists and winemakers in easily identifying the variety in the winery. Shiraz grapes/berries are significantly bigger than Cabernet Sauvignon grapes/berries. This affects how the fruit is handled in the winery since the Shiraz will be juicier with fewer tannins. Cabernet has a more structured character, which means it can lie down and mature.

2. Leaves

Grape leaves have a generally consistent shape, with a distinct appearance and feel that varies only slightly between varietals.

However, there are differences between these two types: Shiraz leaves are larger and darker than Cabernet Sauvignon leaves, which are among the smallest and lightest grapes on the market.

The real size and colour variations can be rather surprising: when held in your hand, the Shiraz leaves are about twice the size of the Cabernet Sauvignon!

Does this affect the grape quality? Not particularly, but recognising the distinction makes identification easier, especially when visiting a winery and inspecting grapes for oneself.

This is also a wonderful method to get closer to your wine and enhance your experience.

3. Aromas

When you hold one of these wines up to your nose, you'll notice a significant scent difference.

Cabernet Sauvignon has a milder aroma, with notes of blackberry, mint, cassis, and leather. Those lovely aromas contribute significantly to the wine's popularity.

However, Syrah/Shiraz often has a more strong aroma, which may appeal to your most ardent wine aficionado. Undercurrents of pepper, spice, and even a meaty or smokey fragrance are to be expected.

As you may expect, the aroma profile contributes to some surprisingly meaty flavour pairings with this wine.

4. Flavours

Obviously, the two red varietals have slightly distinct flavours. Shiraz wines are famous for their rich, luscious mid-palate. Pepper, spice, and sweet red fruit flavours should be expected. We also frequently get a varied palate sensation, with a robust front in the mouth and finish but a little different mid-palate feel. Cabernet Sauvignon, on the other hand, is known for its cedar, tobacco, and blackcurrant flavours.

These two varietals are also frequently mixed, which provides the wine with a distinct flavour. A traditional pairing for which many Australian wineries have become famous for.


Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are two of the world's most popular and widely grown grapes. They both provide us with two great wines that we love.

The bottom line is: you can't go wrong with either wine, so drink whatever you like.

If you're looking for the best boutique winemakers in Australia, look no further than Million Wines! Our family-owned vineyards are located in the renowned wine regions of Barossa Valley, Eden Valley and Clare Valley, with roots deep in South Australia's viticultural history. Each vineyard captures the essence of its region, delivering distinctive wines with complex and seductive flavour profiles. Caretakers of the land, Millon Wines respects the environment, caring for Mother Earth. Our vines are thoughtfully and lovingly tended, producing beautiful, delectable fruit. Shop our selections today!