Walk by any sidewalk cafe in Manhattan, Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta, or Milwaukee and count the glasses of pink wine on the tables. My friends, we are in the midst of a Rosé invasion and all that I can suggest is to surrender.
Being in and around the beverage biz for three decades (but who’s counting…) I’ve seen my share of trends and fads but one of the most compelling and welcomed is the rise of Rosé.
Three decades ago Rosé was a fringe category with anyone serious about wine occasionally waxing poetic about the wines from Tavel and the casual wine drinker absorbed in Mateus, in its narrow-neck, flask-like bottle, or Lancers. (I’ve lost the millennials but my contemporaries just got a chuckle.)
In the mid 80s we saw that rise of White Zinfandel. Sutter Home is to be credited, or blamed according to your point of view. Sutter Home made White Zin as a “mistake” in the 70s and then soon ruled the American wine world. Other brands follow, as is the wont in the industry, and there wasn’t a bar or restaurant in America that didn’t serve White Zinfandel in 1990.
There is no doubt that White Zin was the gateway wine for many rookie wine drinkers who would in short order deny ever drinking the stuff. “Serious” wine drinkers had moved on from White Zin by the middle 90s. Pink wines were passé and no wine aficionado, “or want-to-be wine aficionado,” would be caught dead in public with a glass of pink wine.
Then came the new millennium – perhaps it was a Y2K bug or just a coming of age but Rosé was starting to gain traction. By 2005 Rosé was in vogue. Each May and June the latest crop of Rosé would hit store shelves and by the time we settled into July much of it was gone. Wine lovers had not simply embraced Rosé, they devoured it.
By 2010 nearly everyone was drinking the pink stuff. Importers of Provence Rosé, as well as other Euro appellations, were begging their trusted producers to make to make more Rosé while also looking for additional reliable brands to feed the growing demand. The South of France, Provence in particular, is the inspirational home of fine Rosé. In California many producers who shunned Rosé in the post White Zin backlash were back making Rosé (if even just for themselves).
Today the pink stuff couldn’t be hotter and I’m ecstatic. Luckily, most of these fantastic pink wines are sold at approachable if not bargain prices. There are loads of quality, tasty, and charming Rosé being sold at $15 or less. Of course there are some fantastic examples being sold at $20 and above but unless you have assurances from a trusted pundit or friend that the wine is stellar, stick to the under $15 offerings and you will rarely have a regret.
Go out and get yourself some Rosé for the weekend. It’s the official, unofficial wine of summer.