What Is Claret Wine A Full Explanation

What Is Claret Wine? A Full Explanation

Unofficially, red Bordeaux wine is referred to as “claret wine” in the UK. Typically based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Bordeaux’s red wines are blends. Unofficially, of course, the term “claret” is sometimes used to describe red wines made in other countries, such as the United States, that are in the Bordeaux style.

It was first used in 16th-century England to refer to red Bordeaux as “claret.” The word itself is an Anglicization of the French word clairet, which was used to describe a popular Bordeaux wine style at the time, a rosé-like wine with a dark pink color. The name “claret” became well-known in England thanks to the clairet style’s widespread export. The term “claret” stuck around in the English market even after the introduction of expensive, deep-colored red Bordeaux wines like Châteaux Haut-Brion and Lafite. The more premium red wines, which became known as claret, surpassed the once-popular pink style as demand.

For more information, continue reading.

Quick Facts On Claret Wine

Wine enthusiasts in Britain still frequently use the term “Claret.” The information you require about these wines is provided below.

What Distinguishes Claret from Bordeaux Wine?

There isn’t much of a difference. While the term “Bordeaux wine” refers to all wines—red, rose, and white—made in the Bordeaux wine region, the British term for red Bordeaux wine is “Claret.”

How is claret wine labeled?

Despite being an unofficial name, Claret is protected by EU law and is regarded by the UK government as a “traditional wine term.” (However, a 2006 US-EU wine agreement forbids any US winemaker from using the term “Claret” on their labels.)

Which Grape Species Are Used to Make Claret Wine?

Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Carmenere are the main red grape varieties used to make Claret wines.

How is Claret Wine Served?

After decanting for 15 to 20 minutes, serve claret wines at 16 to 18 degrees Celsius.

Which foods go best with claret wine?

Claret wines pair well withbeef, veal, pork, roasted chicken, game, mushrooms, pasta, and fish courses.

How is Claret different from Clairet?

While Claret is the general term used to refer to all red wines from Bordeaux, Clairet is a type of rose wine from France that is still produced in small quantities.

When Did People First Use It?

Let’s have some fun and look at the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of claret:

“A name originally given (like French vin clairet) to wines of yellowish or light red colour, as distinguished alike from ‘red wine’ and ‘white wine’; the contrast with the former ceased about 1600, and it was apparently then used for red wines generally, in which sense it is still, or was recently, dialect (cf. also 3). Currently used to describe red wines from Bordeaux that are imported and are typically blended with Benicarlo or another full-bodied French wine.”

Notably, “claret wine” is frequently regarded as a colloquialism rather than a term officially employed by wine experts. The phrase has gained a lot of popularity due to its lengthy history with the English Kings.

Claret wine is a term that has been used to describe wine since at least the 1500s. The definition above focuses on two crucial characteristics of claret wine: colour and geographic origin. Usually a blend of red wines, this kind of wine is imported from Bordeaux. In other words, claret wine is a British term for a blend of red wines from the entire wine region. With this knowledge, you can keep up with your fellow wine enthusiasts and know what a wine writer means when they use this term in a piece.

How Does It Taste?

One of the most difficult wine questions is to describe the flavor of an entire wine category. This is an interesting question to research if you want to become the family’s go-to wine expert.

Let’s examine some of the characteristics of these flavorful wines that are frequently referred to as claret.

  • There are never any white grapes used to make red wine (such as, Sauvignon Blanc) in claret. Instead, a particular combination of red wine grapes is referred to as Claret. See my post on the best French white wines if you’re more interested in white wine.
  • The word “Claret” is a British expression. The closest American term would be something like “Bordeaux style red wine blend.”” Occasionally, it appears in wine publications like Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast.
  • Wines that are sweet versus wines that are dry Usually made in a dry manner, claret wines. Look for a Bordeaux blanc like Sauternes if you like sweet wines. When looking for a bottle, keep in mind that dessert wines and sweet wines have similar definitions.
  • Fruit Flavor: Dark fruit flavors like black currant, plums, and others are well-known. If you like dark fruit in your wine, claret is a great option.
  • Secondary Flavors: Mineral characteristics like wet gravel and lead are typical.
  • Different grape varieties make up claret wine’s dominant blend. Usually Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc are additional French grapes that are frequently utilized in Bordeaux.
  • Comparison versus varietal wines Many wine drinkers in the US and Canada are accustomed to “varietal wines,” or a bottle of wine made from just one type of grape. Claret wine is unique; typical vintages typically contain a number of grape varieties. Claret wine’s consistent flavor can be attributed in part to this blend strategy.

Be aware that some wine merchants refer to wines made in other nations that draw inspiration from Bordeaux’s grapes, use a similar method and grapes, and go through a similar wine-making process as “Bordeaux-inspired wines,” a different term for claret wine. See more about What Is Moscato Wine?

The Effect Of A Royal Marriage?

The combination of grape varieties that makes up Claret is connected to a well-known royal union. Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II got married in 1151. One of the greatest dowries in history was brought by Eleanor. Bordeaux and La Rochelle were now becoming English-speaking regions of modern France. The British wine trade now had much easier access to Bordeaux wines as a result. Claret became the wine of choice, as the Kings of England created a decade for this variety of French wine.

For the history, I appreciate Decanter’s assistance.

In the UK, the growth of claret wine has not been steady over time. Due to the wars with France, it was challenging for England to import French wines. Some wine retailers began shifting wine consumption to Portugal, specifically port wine, as a way to address the current wine crisis. England eventually lost all claim to France as a result of numerous wars and political changes.

Over the Channel, there are still many solid cultural and social ties. Today, there is still a significant interest in red wines made in the Bordeaux region. French wines were the most popular imports into the UK in terms of value from 2017 to 2020, according to Statista. Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and France are important wine exporters to the United Kingdom. Bordeaux wines made with Cabernet grapes continue to receive positive reviews and accolades from prestigious trade publications like Wine Spectator, which helps to maintain their high profile.

What Is Claret Wine A Full Explanation
What Is Claret Wine? A Full Explanation

Why Is Bordeaux Red Wine Referred To As “Claret”?

It is thought to be related to the French word “clairet,” and originally applied to very light Bordeaux red wines.

Award-winning wine expert Oz Clarke noted in his History of Wine in 100 Bottles that claret wine came to the attention of thirsty drinkers across the English Channel following Henry II’s and Eleanor of Aquitaine’s 1151 nuptials.

This affected their trade relationship, which resulted in massive convoys of ships bringing Bordeaux “claret” wine into ports in England and Scotland.

In contrast to the style of red wine enjoyed by high society in medieval England, the term “claret” today may refer to heavier Bordeaux red wines.

The longevity of claret in the wine lover lexicon of the twenty-first century has been questioned by some.

‘Claret has slipped from unfashionable to almost irrelevant for most drinkers now,’ said Jane Anson in 2017, during her time as Bordeaux correspondent for Decanter. ‘Few people will even connect it to red Bordeaux. So maybe a revival is on the horizon?’

Occasionally, the term “Claret” has been used to describe red wines produced elsewhere using a traditional Bordeaux grape blend, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But it is a protected name under EU law, as was already mentioned. See more about How Long Does It Take To Age Wine

Bordeaux Wine Is Distinct From Claret, Right?

Even though it’s relatively uncommon to see someone order a glass of “claret” wine these days, the term has long been associated with Bordeaux, especially among British wine drinkers.

Some wine labels still display it.

Claret is mostly used as an unofficial way to describe Bordeaux red wines, although it’s a protected name under The Bordeaux appellation rules make reference to EU law.

The Bordeaux PDO’s designation of claret as an “expression used to designate a pale red wine” has been acknowledged by the UK government as a registered “traditional wine term.”

Does Claret Wine Come From France?

It’s a little difficult to ask a question like this. Depending on whom you ask, the response will be: people in the wine industry, a wine snob, or your wine geek friends. Claret wine has a distinct regional history: the Despite this, winemaking is a worldwide profession. Bordeaux wine region. Because of this, winemakers in other nations are inspired to develop their own Bordeaux-style blend.

The phrase “Bordeaux style” may be used by some in the wine industry to describe a particular blend outside of France. The Bordeaux style blend traditionally consists of the following wine grape varieties: Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Only a small percentage of wine bottles contain every grape variety. The majority of the time, France and other regions combine two or three grape varieties in oak barrels.

Exceptional Claret Wines To Buy In 2022

2013 Dominus Estate Christian Moueix ($499)

This stunning red Bordeaux wine has enticing blueberry, juniper, and boysenberry aromas when it first opens, and it has delicious dark fruit, vanilla, and cherry flavors as well.

2014 Verite La Joie ($426)

Here we have a complex Cabernet Sauvignon blend that displays a bouquet of black truffle, cassis, and currant aromas balanced by blackberry, plum, and baking spice notes.

2019 Duckhorn Vineyards The Discussion Red ($157)

Blueberry, fig, and cinnamon aromas can be detected in the full-bodied wine from the Duckhorn Vineyard. Silky tannins and an intense palate with flavors of dark fruit, pomegranate, and raspberry are features of this fine wine.

1996 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Claret ($65)

This outstanding wine from Francis Ford Coppola has smoky, oaky, and dark fruit flavors that are complemented by the aromas.

2015 Chateau Margaux ($2,424)

This wine has a deep red color and is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon; it has a cherry blossom and lilac aroma that is complemented by dark fruit notes and silky tannins.

2002 Harlan Estate ($1,544)

The exquisite 2002 vintage of Harlan Estate wine displays a fragrant nose of dark berries and French oak with strong chocolate and blackberry notes.

1979 Opus One ($1,305)

This is a powerful Claret wine with notes of herbs, menthol, and pine. Smooth tannins and flavor notes of plum, cherry, and licorice can be found on the delightful palate.

2017 Realm Cellars The Absurd Proprietary Red ($1,090)

This French red wine has a full body, exceptional depth, and a light vanilla aroma. The mouthfeel is silky and the flavor profile includes notes of spice, dark fruit, and rich espresso.

2015 Chateau Ausone ($1,028)

A sophisticated ruby red wine with flavors of cherry, black plums, and licorice is presented here. It has an intense floral bouquet. It is proud of its strong tannin content and well-balanced acidity.

1991 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia ($553)

Here is a stunning wine produced by Joseph Phelps’ vineyards in Sonoma County and the Napa Valley. Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon were used to make this outstanding wine, which has a flavorful palate of intense dark fruit.

The Bottom Line

The British wine trade and wine media most frequently use the phrase today to refer to Bordeaux wines. The term is not used by Bordeaux wine producers themselves on their labels or in any other official context. Claret is a term used on the labels of some red wines made in America that are made in the Bordeaux style. However, there is no official definition for the phrase, and it is not legally protected.

The American term “Meritage” is somewhat similar. When a winery joins the Meritage Alliance and chooses to use only two or more Bordeaux grape varieties in its blend, it may choose to use this trademarked term to identify the wine on the label. This practice is used by some American producers of Bordeaux-style wine. While the term “claret” is only used informally to describe red wines, meritage wines come in both white and red varieties.

Thank you so much for reading.

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