Stemming from a recent article by Bloomberg News and a subsequent discussion amongst several wine writers this last week about Rosé and Rosé Sparkling being a new trend in the wine industry. I took a different perspective and have tried to clarify my comments for you the reader in this article. Many of my comments are “tongue and cheek” as I am not convince Rosé and Rosé Sparkling are a real trend. Instead, I see this as a short lived marketing story. While Provence Rosé is the epicenter and notable exception, many wineries in America are rabid and over the top with Rosé.
While not believing everything you hear or read, the esteemed Board of Directors of California Wines and Wineries have initiated a nationwide movement call Winelovers Against Rosé, W.A.R. It also includes a Rosé being made into Sparkling wines or W.A.R.’s.
To understand this apparent mis-guided conception stating it is a trend I would like to offer some counterpoints in the discussion. They include marketing, consumer age demographics, historical significance (or insignificance) and simply missing the greater picture.
Marketing: Wineries today are struggling for existence amidst fires, smoke tainted vineyards, economic and the pandemic culture. If winemakers are looking to make a wine that is unique with Rosé or Rosé Sparkling, why not do pickle flavored Rosé or pickle flavored Rosé Sparkling. Being unique does not make it “correct”.
Demographics: Most of the true wine aficionados (old farts, me included) still prefer their wines with corks and will age their wine. The Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y and all the alphabet generations (whiners) consider instant gratification, easy buzz, and “cheap” as the hallmarks of wine consumption. The art and sophistication of appreciation of the time it takes to make and experience good wine is lost on these upcoming generations. So is this Rosé movement a trend or a proclamation of young adults? Perhaps the cultural stigma of “wine language” is too difficult for the younger generations to comprehend? Again, it requires reading and studying, not looking at pictures on Instagram or whatever watered down social media flavor of the day is in vogue. Please don’t even start me on wine in a can (be it Rosé), another so called “trend” for these alphabet generations.
Historical Significance: Great wine varietals will continue to be the banner of the wine industry. Can you imagine Napoleon with his famous quote of “in victory, you deserve Champagne. In defeat you need it”. Or Winston Churchill stating “remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne”. Can you imagine Napoleon if this “trend” was in his time? The quote would read like “ in victory, I really need a watered down, sparkling orange, pink, or pretty colored wine as the army who has fought hard and needs something to enjoy chilling in our lounge chairs”!! Or Winston Churchill, stating “folks we need to fight hard because we are after all trying to save the seltzer market and like companies of the world”!! The historical significance of wine from ancient Mesopotamia to Greece, to Italy to France and the New World, has no footnotes on trendy fashions or marketing schemes. They are all lost as insignificant blips on the Richter scale as “wine is wine”. While techniques from cisterns to barrels and corks have evolved, they evolved to make more consistent and better wine. Not to present to consumers a “cheaper method or socially acceptable product”.
The Bigger Picture: The bigger picture of trends or movements escapes the confines of culture. The ones purported in the Bloomberg article and follow up discussion the other evening are all based on the time sensitive culture of ROI, transportation costs, marketing segmentation and survival. All while pandering to the “next generation” of wine consumers.
Conclusion: Whilst not really going to W.A.R. (so please don’t attack with Rosé justification) as it has its place for many, for me this “trend” is brushed off as a mosquito or an annoying bug while enjoying a glass of an aged Cabernet Sauvignon with a nice meal. The bigger picture is one of survival of the wine industry which is both over crowded, corporate driven and one driven by ROI. In fact while writing this, wine was never an “industry” it was a part of culture and survived civilization to civilization as a local product by villages near and far.
Self-confession: I actually went into the cellar this morning to see what “Rosé and Sparkling Rosés” were there. In the inventory book, none showed up. I did find three bottles in the special section of wines given to me from friends and to be opened typically on Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners on unsuspecting family and guests. Since my tour of the Champagne region, I always have some wonderful chalky Champagnes, both aged and NV at the ready. Ditto for Prosecco. Today, I have two bottles of Rosés in the cellar.
I checked with our local “wine society” community after the discussion to get additional findings on their consumption and inventory levels of Rosé and here are their responses verbatim:
“We rarely purchase Rosé wines, not a big fan and its’ actually difficult to find a really good one. I can’t put a number on it, maybe one or two a year in summer months, although we didn’t purchase any this year. We have none in our current inventory. We have brut rose from Schramsberg and it is really good. Hope this helps.”
“We have no Rosé wine in our cooler. That being said, we recently enjoyed a bottle of sparkling Rosé wine and I would be very tempted to purchase this low cost wine. It was very refreshing on those hot evenings.”
“Occasionally we buy a Rosé. We have 1 or 2 in inventory.”
“No we don’t buy Rosé wines.”
“I buy Rosé wine, probably a dozen times a year. My problem is finding one I really enjoy and I have tried different price points. I would definitely try a Sparkling Rosé.”
These are only a few that I received feedback on. That said, this limited empirical data, plus mine, shows this far from being a trend. I am actually going to do a post on my website, Facebook account and Blog account to see what kind of response on who and how much Rosé is consumed, in their inventory and regularly purchased.
Hope you enjoyed my response, as I am not convinced Rosé and Rosé Sparkling is a real trend, but rather a short lived marketing and survival story.