Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rosé = Clairet = Summer Perfection

This Savvy Sommelier is ready for some summer rosé. I guess I don't mean some, I mean a lot. Actually, I plan to drink my entire summer rosé allocation during the first week in August, while I'm in Bordeaux with my family. It's fitting after all, because rosé wine originally came from Bordeaux. Bordeaux is widely considered as one of the top wine producing regions of the world, responsible for over seventy million cases of wine per year, about 85% red, 12% white, and the rest rosé. That means a total of more than 2 million cases of rosé wine per year. Now that's a summer vacation.

The proper term in France for a rosé is really "clairet" (translation:clear). A clairet is dark pink in style, usually fairly full-bodied and deeply colored type of rosé. It is considered a specialty of the Bordeaux region and is thought to have originated in Quinsac in Premieres Côtes de Bordeaux. Similar to the light wine of the Middle Ages that was exported to England, clairet is the the source of the English term "claret".

A little more geeky history: the term claret in Middle Ages England was a rosé made simply by mixing a batch of red and white wine together. Eventually, claret turned dark - demand exceeded supply, so red wine from other countries was added to the mix. Claret finally acquired it's current meaning, a dark red wine shipped from Bordeaux (without adulteration). That's what the word meant when the first bottled model was ordered in 1801.

Call it rosé, clairet, blush or that pink stuff . . . just count me in.

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