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What Is Claret Wine?

What Is Claret Wine?

Every time you think you’ve discovered every wine, there is on the planet a new variety that pops up on your trip to your local liquor store or vineyard. You are not alone if you’ve come across a bottle of claret wine and had no idea what it was.

Luckily, I’m going to take you on a journey called Claret 101, so you can learn everything there is to learn about claret wine.

What Is Claret Wine?

Claret is derived from the French term clairet. The English used the term Claret to describe rose wine produced in Bordeaux during the 14th century.

Specifically, Claret is a British term that encompasses a group of French red wines using grapes cultivated in the Bordeaux region. Some of these wines include Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Donati, Merlot, Francis Coppola Diamond, and Apothic wine.

Some people believe Claret was derived from the Latin term for clear, hence the reference to lighter-colored wines. Modern Claret’s color has a dark reddish purplish red. However, before the 1700s, Claret had a lighter.

Today’s Claret wine has a complex flavor and texture based on how long it’s been aged, the variety of grapes, and the province of Bordeaux it was produced in. Typically, Claret wines boast fruity flavors and aromas with delicate notes of earthy flavor.

After the 1700s, the demand for Bordeaux wines grew. Claret became the official blanket term for Bordeaux wines.

History of Claret Wine

Henry Plantagenet, otherwise known as King Henry the second of England, wed Eleanor of Aquitaine. Aquitaine, Bordeaux, and its surrounding provinces became territories of England through this union. 

Claret was the IT style of wine in Bordeaux during this time. Winemakers used shorter fermenting times, so Claret did not have the complexity and color that today’s red wines do. Therefore, these Claret wines were low-quality and usually spoiled after a few months.

Nevertheless, Claret wines were inexpensive, so English wine lovers loved Claret. Due to tariffs, winemakers began exporting Claret wines like crazy.

The prosperity of Bordeaux did not go unnoticed. The French wanted control of Aquitaine, so the 100-year war began in 1337. Although the name implies the war lasted 100 years, it did not end until 1453, which is actually 116 years later.

France won the war, and the export of Claret to England stopped. Winemakers in Bordeaux began exporting Claret to the Netherlands. In contrast, the English nursed their craving for wine with the Iberian Peninsula.

Like a bad relationship, France and England stayed in an on-and-off war for 400 years. During the 16th century, Claret gained popularity in England again, and a beneficial relationship brewed once more.

What Is the Difference Between Red Wine and Claret?

Claret is the unofficial British term for red Bordeaux wine. The most popular Bordeaux red wines are Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

However, nowadays, wine is labeled Claret even if they were not produced in Bordeaux. So, while red wine can be Claret, all red wine is not claret. 

What Does Claret Wine Taste Like?

Depending on the type of Claret wine you are drinking, it may have a dry and smooth texture. Claret wine is not a dessert or sweet wine.

It has flavors of blueberry and blackberry, as well as hints of dried herbs like thyme and a subtle earthy flavor. You will notice that an oak or spice-like flavor emerges, and the wine’s finish has a fruity chocolaty tone.

What Are the Best Food Pairings for Claret Wine

Claret wines are versatile. They pair well with beef, such as prime rib, roasted chicken, pork, game, and veal. 

However, you can also pair well with pasta, fish, and mushrooms. You could even serve claret wine with a burger or seafood such as mussels, shrimp, clams, oysters, and sushi. As long as the ingredients are fresh, claret wine will pair perfectly with them.

Should Claret Be Chilled?

Claret wine should be slightly cool but not overly cold. If it’s too cold, you won’t experience the wine’s full flavor.

It’s best to chill the Claret wine 30 minutes before you intend to serve it. This way, the wine will be slightly chilled when you are ready to serve it with the food.

Final Thoughts

Claret wines are absolutely delicious. They are robust Bordeaux-style red wines that pair perfectly with so many foods. So, pick up a bottle of Claret wine the next time you see it in your local winery, liquor store, or even grocery store.

Edward Lohmann

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Well expl

Nancy Dearborn

Wednesday 14th of September 2022

While I have had Claret wine once or twice, I did enjoy it. It does not seem to be very popular in this region (south). However, at a very nice restaurant I saw Claret on the menu, so we ordered it and my friends were surprised at just how good it was. However, until I read this article, I didn't know the history of claret and now I know the "rest of the story". I have a small selection of wines at home and Claret is now a part of that group. Thank you for a very informative story of Claret wines.