Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
I recently found a claret that had Syrah in it. I was under the impression that a claret is a red Bordeaux-style wine, and thus not having Syrah. What gives? Are there any regulations on the usage of “claret” on the label?
No, the term “claret” has no legal meaning in the United States, and there are no regulations on its use. Historically, the word was a British term referring to red Bordeaux, and spiritually, that’s most often how it’s used these days—to refer to red Bordeaux-style wine.
You’re correct that Syrah is not one of the traditional red Bordeaux grapes (which are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot). These days, when I see a wine labeled as claret, I imagine the winemaker is paying homage to the idea of blending grapes to make a rich red, even if it means having to tinker with the blend and include non-Bordeaux grapes in the mix.