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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I read two different reports about the main wine grown in Bordeaux—claret and Cabernet Sauvignon. Is it the same grape?

—Des H., Auckland

Dear Des,

It amazes me how much the term “claret” is used these days, since it’s a term that peaked in use around 1860. Claret is not a type of grape, but a British nickname for the red wines of Bordeaux.

The red wines of Bordeaux are typically a blend of multiple grapes, including, as you note, Cabernet Sauvignon, the other big one being Merlot, along with Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. You might recognize that in other regions of the wine world, sometimes vintners name the wines after the primary grape inside, or if they blend grapes together in Bordeaux-inspired wines, they can give them proprietary names.

But when you’re reading about claret, you’re reading about a red wine that is a blend of the grapes of Bordeaux.

—Dr. Vinny

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