Dear Wine Ladies, We are quickly becoming fans of the red wines of Bordeaux and recently heard someone refer to Bordeaux as Claret.  Is Claret a kind of wine from Bordeaux or is it from a different region? Also, I have heard the term Meritage from Bordeaux, what is the difference? – Jackie

Dear Jackie, The term claret is actually a moniker it was mostly used by the British for the red wines of Bordeaux, with its origin dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. During this time period, the red wines of Bordeaux were generally much lighter in colour and much paler. The word claret comes from the Latin word Clarus that means “clear”.  These days although not so commonly used claret is used as a general term for the red wines of Bordeaux, as well as red wines made in the Bordeaux style.  The grapes permitted to make red Bordeaux are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, either as single varietal wines or any blend of the five.

Meritage wines are not from Bordeaux, rather they are wines blended with the traditional noble grape varietals of Bordeaux. The term Meritage, which rhymes with heritage combines “merit” meant to reflect the quality of the grapes, and “heritage” recognizing the centuries-old tradition of blending, long considered being the highest form of the winemaker’s art. Wines labeled Meritage first appeared in the late 1980s after a group of American vintners joined forces to create a name for New World wines blended in the tradition of Bordeaux. In 1988 The Meritage Association was formed issuing licenses strictly to wines meeting specific criteria.