As unfamiliar to me as the word claret was, I had anticipated that I’d have to use it. Using it seemed to confer a certain savvy, it hinted at time spent by the fireside at a grandfather’s knee and gave the impression that the user was familiar with sixth form meals at public school and had spent time in the clubs of St James’s.

I could live with using the word claret, even though at first it only tripped awkwardly forth. Luncheon was another matter.

I just didn’t get it. We didn’t have breakfast wines, so why have luncheon ones? The only way to get over my reluctance to use the word would be through some form of behavioural therapy – where I’d use the word and in the process get used to using it. For that to work, however, I’d have to get round the word first and I’m admitting now that I couldn’t. I could never get the word out. Until, that is, yesterday.

 

 

I used the term for the first time yesterday.

We were having lunch in the garden with the family and a good family friend, Linn Rothstein of Merry Widows wine. She’d brought with her, amongst other things, a red from the Languedoc that she’d promised to taste. Unfortunately, when we opened the bottle, we discovered that it was corked. We needed something else. I scurried inside and grabbed a red from Bordeaux.

We opened it, it was in good condition and it worked well with the lamb I’d grilled on our barbecue – the first of the year.

Linn remarked on the wine and said that she loved the sweetness that was hiding in the wine behind soft tannins. She was right; the wine was very good with that faint smell of pencil shavings offsetting more generous aromas of blackcurrants. It was both interesting to drink and refreshing; light in its way but also full of delicate dimensions of taste and flavour.

As we drew our wine appreciation to a close I remarked that this wine was what I could have called a luncheon claret when I worked in the wine trade.

There, I’d said it, I’d said it out loud and it felt good.

TOP TIP: If you want to get a glimpse of why so many people make such a fuss about the reds of Bordeaux, but don’t want to have to sell your house to do so, I’d recommend that you look at some ‘second wines.’ All of the main producers will issue these second wines at prices considerably lower than they achieve for their first wines (although it must be said that these wines are still quite steep and not everyday wines by any means.)

There are lots of good examples, widely available; a favourite of mine is Alter Ego by Chateau Palmer. It gives a good impression of what the main wine of Chateau Palmer is like, at a fraction of the cost and I also like it because the label is the same as the one they use for their first wine, only in negative: with gold text on a black background.

Ewan also posts regular articles about  wine at www.ewanlacey.com

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