Top 10 Shakespearean drinks

Bordeaux & Claret

clairetWine was a luxury in Shakespearean England, and not available to all. As an imported product, it cost around twelve times more than beer or ale so it’s the kings and courtiers that generally get to drink it in his plays.

Claret was a much lighter drink than we would expect from a modern red Bordeaux, and would be closer to a rosé or, dare one say, an ‘orange wine’.

In Henry VI, Part 2, the rebel leader Cade orders that the sewers of London should “run nothing but claret wine the first year of our reign”.

There’s a symbolic quality to the mention of claret in the play. In the 12th century, Bordeaux and the Gascony area became English territory with the marriage of Henry Plantagenet to Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Bordeaux wines were sent in large quantities to England

By the close of the Hundred Years War in 1453, Henry VI had lost Gascony when it was retaken by the French, and the availability of claret was diminished. The loss was still being keenly felt in Shakespeare’s times.

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