Definition - What does Claret mean?

A Claret is a British term for a red wine from Bordeaux. Though the term originated in Britain, it is used world-wide to refer to Bordeaux’s famous red blend.

The word claret is an anglicized version of the French term clairet - which is a dark rosé wine typical to Bordeaux. The term has evolved since its first use in Britain to refer to dry, dark red Bordeaux wines. It is associated with the upper class.

WineFrog explains Claret

The French term, Clairet, originally mean clear, pale or light-colored wine. In the 14th and 15th centuries, wines from Bordeaux were paler, almost like rosés, which is why the term started being applied to those wines specifically.

The current use of the anglicized claret started in the 1700s in Britain. It was and is still used generically to refer to the dark red color typical of Bordeaux blends - and was used for any product in that colour, from nail polish to yarn. With regards to wine, specifically, it can be used on any wine modelled after the Bordeaux blend, from anywhere in the world. American wineries and estates use "claret" on their labels to refer to red wines made in the same styles and with the grapes typically used in a Bordeaux Blend.

Due to the prestigious origins of the word - the upper class and high society of Britain - many producers include "claret" on the labels of generic red wines from Bordeaux in an attempt to make them more appealing to consumers. In fact, the term is not used in France. Producers will only put the term on the labels of bottles they intend to export.

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