Histories of civilization and wine are intertwined. A case in point is the wine region of Bordeaux, France. From there, both red and white blends are sought by wine admirers worldwide, and they are referred to as Bordeaux Rouge (red) and Bordeaux Blanc (white). If you have an English friend like me, you may hear them refer to red Bordeaux as Claret. Also, if you are in a wine shop looking at the blended red wines, you may see a label reading “Claret.”
Here is where history comes into play. Bordeaux was once part of a region called Aquitaine. In 1151, Henry Plantagenet, the future Henry II of England, married Eleanor of Aquitaine. With her came the Aquitaine region (you may recall the movie Lion in Winter, Peter O’Toole plays Henry, and Katharine Hepburn plays Eleanor of Aquitaine.) During this time, the Aquitaine, including Bordeaux, is English. Later, this region was conquered by the French. Still, while it was under English control, a relationship developed between the area and England. Bordeaux wine was imported to England, and the English developed a liking for it. Also at this time, Bordeaux wines were very light in color because of the wine-making process used then. Clairet means “clear” in French (with the “t” silent). The English angelized “Clairet” into “Claret” (with the “t” pronounced). Thus, the English, called red, blended wine from Bordeaux, Claret.
You can call this blended red wine Bordeaux or Claret and it will probably be a blend that includes these grape varieties; Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (the dominant grape varieties), Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.
Here is another movie reference. In the last scene of the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever, Bond suspects that a waiter serving him Bordeaux wine is an assassin. He asks the waiter if he has any Claret. The waiter says no. Bond replies Bordeaux is Claret. A fight breaks out between the two, and Bond wins, of course. You never know when a bit of historical knowledge, or wine trivia, will come in handy.
Cheers! (Or should I say, Sante!)