Bordeaux is famous for its wines. It deserves to be equally famous for its magnificent neo-classical waterfront and old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bordeaux and the whole province of Aquitaine came under English rule for 300 years from 1154, when Eleanor of Aquitaine married the future King Henry II. The English rulers enjoyed drinking the wines of Bordeaux, but they enjoyed the profits even more – trade with Bordeaux was their largest source of income. Most wine came from the Graves region just upriver from the city, and this was a clear, deep rosé called clairet, still produced today. The English came to call any Bordeaux red wine “claret”.
In 1453 France took control of Aquitaine and cut off the supply to England, which ceased to drink wine for the next 500 years, turning to beer and gin. This caused a slump in Bordeaux, which only revived from the 16th century through trans-Atlantic trade.