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64 MIN READ TIME

Claret Bloodstream of the Auld Alliance

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.

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