Definitions

claret

claret

[klar-it]
claret: see wine.
Claret is a name used in English, primarily in Britain, for red wine from the Bordeaux region of France.

Usage

The term claret is most common in the United Kingdom. People from the United States usually call it "red Bordeaux" or just "Bordeaux".

It has been coined from the clairet, a now uncommon dark rosé which was the most common style of wine exported from Bordeaux until the 18th century. Claret is a protected name within the European Union for describing a red Bordeaux wine; it was accepted after the British wine trade demonstrated over 300 years' usage of the word.

The name Claret is occasionally used in the United States as a semi-generic label for any red wine in a style similar to that of Bordeaux. However, the usual practice today is to label wines by the grape variety or varieties from which they are made.

The French themselves do not use the term Claret, except for export purposes.

Usage has expanded to include the colour which resembles the red hue of this wine. It has also become a slang word for blood. An old English expression for giving someone a bloody nose is "Tapping the Claret".

Pronunciation

Claret is frequently mispronounced as [klæ'ɹeɪ] as it is believed to be a French word. Although it is originally from the French word clairet (English translation is 'pale') the word claret is an English invention and thus is traditionally pronounced according to rules of English phonology as ['klæɹɪt]. The mispronunciation is a form of hypercorrection.

History

The Plantagenet kingdom, covering England and much of France from 1152 to 1453, encouraged wine trade and the development of English taste for this wine, adopting the French word clairet to describe it.

In the Late Middle Ages, a claret was a spiced wine-based drink produced by pouring wine, usually a red, over a bag containing a mix of spices. It was similar, and often identical, to hypocras. Spices that were specific to medieval clarets include anise, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon and fennel. The term now more frequently applies to unspiced red Bordeaux wine.

It must be noted that the standard style of Bordeaux wine has not always been deep red. It used to be more of a rosé wine, hence the name: claret (English) coming from clairet (french), meaning pale. The meaning of "claret" has changed over time to refer to a dry, dark red Bordeaux.

References

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