Skip to main content

A Quick Guide to Iranian Wine (and What You Can Get in the U.S.)

Way, way back, the city of Shiraz was a place known for its wine. The vibrant Iranian town produced and enjoyed a fair bit of the stuff, gaining a vast reputation for fermented fruit.

The Persian region is home to some of the oldest evidence of enology on the planet. Vessels caked in tartaric acid, a byproduct of winemaking, have been found that date back to 5400 BC. They were discovered in the Zagros Mountains, the rugged range of peaks that makes up Iran’s western border.

Related Videos

Such rich history means plenty of corresponding mythology. One of the best tales involves a heartbroken girl rejected by the king. Suicidal, she ate rotten table grapes, seeking to end her life. As you might guess, she survived, and even got a little drunk. She reported her findings to the king and a glorious wine scene was born.

It’s estimated that until the revolution of 1979, as many as 300 wineries operated within Iran’s borders. Today, the industry is mostly forbidden, save for a few non-Muslim operations. However, there are almost certainly a few clandestine operations (producers, importers, etc.) as well, given that some reports say Iranians still drink a modest amount of wine per year, illegal as it may be. And there are the reports of the well-to-do, partying on weekends and even making some of their own wine at home.

So while the wine scene has been very limited in Iran for the last 41 years, the region as a whole over the course of civilization has largely embraced the stuff. It shows up in old paintings and literature (although the word wine has been outlawed in modern writing). And it makes sense, given the climate and elevation. Shiraz is set up quite high, giving it favorable diurnal shifts and a good grape-growing aspect.

While some suggest that today’s Shiraz wine (made from Syrah) owes its name in part to the historic central Iranian city, there’s not much to the claim. In fact, much of the wine that indigenous to the Shiraz area and enjoyed by its people was white, ranging from dry to sweet. It was typically fermented in amphora, both commercially and by families at home.

It’s pretty much impossible to taste anything alcoholic that’s made in Iran today. There are rumors of renegade winemakers smuggling Iranian-grown fruit across borders and making small amounts to be shipped to select spots, but very little evidence to back that up. Fortunately, there are other creative ways to taste a bit of the Persian tradition. Several wineries in the States were launched by Iranians and look to craft something that honors their homeland, not to mention its prehistoric relationship with wine.

A few to look out for:



This California operation wears its Iranian heritage proudly, including Persian architecture at its winery and tasting room. Run by Darioush and Shahpar Khaledi, the eponymous outfit specializes in Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Franc, Chardonnay, and more. 



Based in the Willamette Valley, Maysara was started by the Momtazi family, originally from Iran. The winery looks after a celebrated biodynamic vineyard in the McMinnville AVA and makes fantastic Riesling, as well as Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir. 

Azari Vineyards

Azari Vineyards

Set in the beautiful Petaluma Gap of northern California, this label was started by Iranian-born Kamal and Parichehr Azari in the late 1980s. Azari Vineyards focuses on Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Riesling, and some Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fazeli Cellars

Fazeli Cellars

Fazeli is situated in the sunny Temecula region of southern California. The label began with its first vintage in 2006, led by Persian owner Bizhan Fazeli. The wine program is based around Syrah but is quite expansive, including some dessert wines, whites, Can Franc, Sinsaut, and more.

Editors' Recommendations

Is erythritol harmful? What a dietitian says new data means for your Keto diet
Erythritol is common in many keto foods - what does that mean for your health?
erythritol in keto diet advice

While sugar substitutes have been around for more than a century, they didn't really become mainstream here in the United States until around the mid-70s. According to Carolyn De La Pena, professor of American Studies at UC Davis and author of Empty Pleasures: The Story of Artificial Sweeteners from Saccharin to Splenda, between 1975 and 1984, Americans increased their consumption of artificial sweeteners by 150 percent. This timeline makes sense when you take into account that the late seventies coincided with the start of our crazed diet culture and the revolving door of fad diets.
One such diet that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, however, is the Keto diet. Still hugely popular among Americans trying to shed a few pounds, Keto focuses heavily on limited or no carbohydrates. Because sugar contains carbohydrates, followers of Keto have turned to artificial sweeteners to satisfy those late-night cravings - sweeteners that, more often than not, contain erythritol. Erythritol in particular has become hugely popular because it's much better for baking than other sugar substitutes, has less of an artificial flavor, and will keep the eater in Ketosis, which is key for losing weight on the Keto diet.
A new study has made waves recently because its findings indicate there's a link between erythritol and higher rates of heart attack and stroke (though the study did note that only an association was found — not causation. So should you be worried?
We asked Dan LeMoine, RD, the award-winning author of Fear No Food and the Clinical Director at Phoenix-based Re:vitalize Nutrition, what he had to say about erythritol, including its benefits and potential health risks. "Artificial sweeteners are still sweeteners. While many are non-nutritive or zero-calorie, we tend to view them similarly as we do regular sweeteners or sugars — moderation is key. While many have amazing implications on weight loss – being low to no-calorie options and having little impact on blood sugar, some have their downside," he says.

While some of that sugar substitution has been good for waistlines and health issues that come from obesity, it seems to be causing more and more concern when it comes to other potential health issues. "For example," says LeMoine, "some research indicates the popular sweeteners stevia may have negative effects on the gut microbiome. And the recent study showing correlation between the sugar alcohol, erythritol, and heart attack and stroke."

Read more
Feeling adventurous? 5 of the weirdest cocktails from around the globe
Would you order a cocktail with a pickled human toe? You can in Canada, apparently
unusual and unique cocktails sourtoe cocktail

We all love a good cocktail, but it's easy to tire of the classics. There's nothing wrong with a perfectly frosty, salted-rimmed margarita, or a warm-to-your-bones, cherry-topped old-fashioned, but sometimes, you just want something new. Something that makes you think. Something that, perhaps, gives you a chuckle. These are those cocktails.
Pig's Blood Piña Colada (USA)

Back in 2014, bartender Jason Brown of Chicago's Kinmont restaurant and bar, concocted this cocktail after listening to a Werewolves of London lyric about a werewolf drinking a pina colada. His creativity sparked, and the "Werewolves of London" cocktail was born.

Read more
The 8 best protein shakes that are ready-to-go
These shakes come with all the good stuff, and none of the crap

With as busy as we have become as a society, we always seem to be on the go. This can make life challenging, especially when it comes to wellness goals. In a perfect world, you could hit the gym hard, crush a workout, then immediately refuel with a balanced, home-cooked meal. But, since life happens and we are always on the go, it’s not always feasible to take the time to actually cook up a muscle-building meal right after your workout. Whether you’re on the go and short on time, or just can't stomach a full meal after exercising, having a quick and easy, protein-packed option that doesn’t require kitchen time, is a helpful alternative to refuel your body and maximize your results.

This is where protein shakes come in handy. Numerous ready-to-drink shakes are available that provide muscle-building protein, vitamins, minerals, and calories to fortify your body after a workout. They offer the benefits of protein powders with the convenience of eliminating the need for a shaker bottle, or high-speed blender, let alone making a mess with powders. Simply give the bottle a quick shake, pop the top, and you’re good to go.

Read more