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".
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.