Can a Bordeaux blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Franc be regarded as a “claret”?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Can a Bordeaux blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Cabernet Franc be regarded as a “claret”?

—Harry H., Ireland

Dear Harry,

Sure. “Claret” doesn’t have a formal definition beyond "Bordeaux-style red wine." The term originated in the U.K. in the 18th century, used to refer to the red wines of Bordeaux, and both Merlot and Cabernet Franc are among the traditional grapes used in red Bordeaux blends (along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petite Verdot).

It’s strange to me that the term “claret” is still around. Its usage peaked around 1860, but it recently seems to have had a bit of a resurgence.

—Dr. Vinny

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