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Digital Subscriptions > iScot Magazine > July 2018 > Claret Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance

Claret Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance

Guid claret best keeps out the cauld an drives awa the winter soon It maks a man baith gash an bauld an heaves his saul ayont the mune.

Alan Ramsay ‘s poem was in praise of clairet, the light, limpid rosé wine of Bordeaux, which became claret, the dark, powerful, purplered liquid which linked Scotland and France so closely it was known as the Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance. Today it still has the unerring ability to hoist the Scotsman’s soul over the moon, as more and more people re-discover the joy of their other national drink. In the 18th century, when Ramsay wrote, claret was a staple beverage in the Scottish capital, with claret carts as common as milk floats today. In his memoirs, Lord Cockburn wrote:

I have heard Henry MacKenzie and other old people say that when a cargo of claret came to Leith, the common way of proclaiming its arrival was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart with a horn; and that anybody who wanted a sample or a drink under pretence of a sample, had only to go to the cart with a jug, which without much nicety about its size was filled for a sixpence.

When a cargo of claret came to Leith, the common way of proclaiming its arrival was by sending a hogshead of it through the town on a cart with a horn

Sixpenceworth rarely sufficed, for the common measure at the time was the chopin (a generous quart, the name derived from the French la chopine). The everyday drinking vessel was the mighty Tappit Hen (again French in origin, derived from la topynette), great lidded jugs, mightier than the Bavarian Stein and foaming with a much more generous liquid. Sir Walter Scott’s son-in-law and biographer Lockhart described an old-fashioned Edinburgh repast.

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The best Scottish Glossy on the planet ! An absolute belter of an issue with all the best crack going on in Scotland today.