Petite Sirah produces a darkly-colored wine and tends to have big tannins. It is relatively acidic with firm texture and can age for decades. It is sometimes used to bolster acidity in flabbier Cabernets or body in Pinot Noir in weaker years.
Petite Sirah has small, tightly packed berries that are very resistant to downy mildew but susceptible to rot in rainy environments. It has a high skin to juice ratio.
Petite Sirah originated as a cross of Syrah with Peloursin and these vines are often mistaken for each other. It is unclear whether the majority of vines planted in California are the genetically similar Durif or Petite Sirah. Research and legal action on this subject are ongoing. There is also confusion between Petit Syrah, from the French for the small (petit) berried form of the Syrah vine found in the Rhône, and Petite Sirah, a distinct variety.