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The Rise of Rosé

simple plonk to the pink of the people to serious + ultra premium rosé

Rosé sales are rising and I couldn’t be happier for it. In this post, I track rosés recent rise and the people who promoted the wine trends that gave birth to a new love for pink! Of course, I’ll also be predicting, what’s next?!

The Rise of Rosé

Most people will credit instagram for the Rise of Rosé sales, but I firmly believe it began first with restaurant sommeliers.

We were the ones predicting and promoting the Rise of Rosé for years. We sported slogans such as ‘Rosé all Day’ and amped up our menus with sections dedicated to the pink each year before the onslaught of summer crowds. The hashtag #roseallday followed.

Indeed, I remember the year it finally happened, about 6 years ago. All of the rosé I ordered at the beginning of summer had for the first time, sold out completely!

What changed?!

 

Millenials embrace rosé with instagram posts and playful marketing...

Millennials won over the public with their instagram savvy ways featuring pretty in pink rosé wines
Millennials won over the public with their instagram savvy ways promoting pink rosé wines

After that the Rise of Rosé finally won over the public via millennials and their instagram savvy ways.

Millennials are the generation who were born between the years 1981 and 1996 and stand out for their technology use and digital life. The ‘think pink’ messaging of rosé wines stylistically caught people’s eye with its soft pastel pink posters. But it also came with a cultural message that spawned an entire movement.

The marketing is so playful!

In a wine world that breeds snobbery, rosé hype breathed fresh air to stuffy old wine traditions. This new wave of wine etiquette came with the idea that anything goes.

Rosé in cans? Let’s do it! Rosé on the patio or at the beach? Hellz ya!

You could even add icecubes to rosé wine without suffering from the fear of vitriol and faux pas that is attached to other wine rules!

Rosès message of inclusivity then brought other hashtags to the table.

One restaurant manager of an Italian restaurant in New York came up with the term Frosé for a slushy pink wine to sell on hot summer days. Then Brosé came along to suggest real men drink pink.

 

Frosé a slushy drink made with rosé wine helped usher in the Rise of Rosé

Tracking the Rise of Rosé in numbers...

In the US, sales of rosé wine increased by 40% in 2018 alone.

In fact, rosé is the number one success story of lockdown. In late May, year-on-year sales were up by over 400% at Waitrose in the UK.

Yet, this increase in sales is led primarily from one wine region, Provence AOC. Provence is a wine appellation in the Mediterranean area of France that produces rosé wines exclusively. In the 5 years from 2012-2017, exports by volume trippled from Provence.

It is the Provençal style that popularized the pale pink colour consumers adore.

 

The Pink Tide; the rise of rosé as it spreads to the masses...

For decades, cheap Provence wines were glugged by tourists in the French-styled courtyards of Nice. Any wine faults they exhibited were hidden by the extra cold temperatures of icebuckets or by the ambience of drinking it on beautiful beaches. I say this because if you took some bottles home, the wine just never tasted as good when chilled in your fridge.

More recently, tons of outside investment has come into Provence from movie stars such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie when they launched Chateau Miravel, priced at $33 Cdn, $22 US, £21 UK . Sex in the City’s star, Sarah Jessica Parker has launched a Provençal pink as well as musician Jon Bon Jovi.

 

[What’s the best app for your tasting notes in 2021? Check out our in depth review of Vivino, Delectable, and Cellar Tracker here before you download]

[Do you find French wine laws and labels confusing? Read the Beginning of French Wine Law in Bordeaux, Champagne and Southern France here?]


Heck, even rapper Post Malone launched a Provence rosé! (I know many of you are familiar with his pop song, Circles, but the other songs from this tattoo-faced performer are NOTHING like that song). Apparently, pink is the new naughty!

But investment has also come from experienced Frenchie’s too. Sacha Lichine, the son of an influential wine writer and former owner of 2 classed Bordeaux Chateaux released the now popular Chateau d’Esclans’ ‘Whispering Angel’.

Outside investment means new winery equipment, up-to-date hygenic standards, and higher quality wines.

Moreover, the A-list of stars marketing pink wines means that rosé has indeed conquered the masses.

The rosé category boldly breaks tradition without the fear of vitriol from wine snobs. Here's rosé wine with icecubes!

The Rise of Rosé into the elite...

The Rise of Rosé has prompted some wine regions like Prosecco to change their laws so they can make rosé wines
The Rise of Rosé has prompted some wine regions like Prosecco to change their laws so they can make rosé wines

Prices of Provençal wines now frequently sell from $20-$40. A few make it the way to over $225 Cdn ($89 US, £108 UK) such as Chateau d’Esclans barrel fermented premium rosé made from 100-yr old vines, the Garrus. (Man we get hosed here in Canada for wine!)

What does all of this mean?

It’s not easy for a category of wine to expand from the conception of simple, inexpensive plonk into a premium and super premium range. Since rosé is now conquering the prestige side of the spectrum, does it mean that this wine trend is here to stay?

Because in fact, the wine world is riddled with examples of just the opposite; wines from regions that have a cheap image can rarely convince consumers to pay for their expensive, premium wines. Prosecco and Cava immediately come to mind as prototypes where this is true.

Australia is probably the most famous example cited in textbooks. The country sold Yellow Tail worldwide at bargain basement prices. This damned the rest of the nation’s premium producers who are still unable to command the correct prices for their high-end ageable wines.

Juxtaposed to this, the ‘think pink’ revolution has exploded from it’s meager local beginnings over to the largest population group, the millennials. Then upscale rosé flowed upwards to the elite. If consumers continue to pay for rosé wines across the price range, this could mean the pink is here to stay! [that’s me performing a cheerleader’s dance]

 

Rosé is no longer a trend...

Moreover, wine regions are racing to jump aboard the pink train. To boot, the Prosecco region of Italy changed its laws last year so they could make a pink bubbly version!

Furthermore, sales of Champagne rosé have been growing steadily at a rate of 3.5% per year since 2005. In 2015, rosé Champagne sales were 12% of the category. Now, it represents a quarter of the industry.

According to Cyril Brun, the cellar master for Charles Heidsieck, when sales exceed 5 or 6 percent of the market share, it’s no longer a trend.

(By the way, Charles Heidsieck Rosé is one of my all time favourites, it’s well worth the splurge!)

Rosé sales growth of British Columbian wines within my home province...

For a local comparison, the rise of rosé in my home province of British Columbia (BC), Canada is aligned with the rest of the world.

Here, sales of BC rosé wines have risen from $5 million in 2016 to $11 million in 2020 (comparison is from the sales in the 2nd quarter only – which is at the beginning of summer when restaurants and stores stock up on rosé).

Sales of BC rosé (as their share of the BC wine market overall) increased 5% from 2019 to 2020. If we believe Cyril Brun, that’s no longer a trend!!

[Trying to order wine in British Columbia? Here’s the 5 Best Online Wine Delivery Services]

What's next?

Rosé wines are one category of wine that has traditionally been exclusively represented by inexpensive prices. But this grouping has been able to convince consumers to pay for premium offerings. My guess, or hope really, is that this means the trend is here to stay.

For example, rosé wines are a great choice for pairing with food as they stand up to a broad range of dishes.

Furthermore, if you branch out beyond Provence, you’ll find that there are a million different styles of rosé!

But I’m going to save that information for the next post! Happy Long Weekend!

If you like what you see, go on and share it!

3 Comments

  1. Great article ! The start of the rose in North America would be accredited to possible Beringer with their rose coloured sweet Zinfandel that took the afternoon ladies patio clubs by storm. Pushing more people to drink wine and some to grow from it. So many styles now to choose from . Provence still makes the best roses in my opinion.

    • Hi Aydin, thanks for posting!

      You are correct! White Zinfandel ushered an era of off-dry rosé sales that saved many an old-vine Zinfandel from being ripped out for Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. That was in the 80’s. However, I don’t believe it was a worldwide phenomenon (it was a US market anomoly).

      …Although perhaps I say this because I was well under the drinking age and unable to personally comment on that time as a sommelier 😉

      Today however, the rise of rosé is a worldwide phenomenon. And although this is led by Provence and its trademark style, ALL rosés from everywhere are flying off the shelves. So much so that regions are altering their wine laws to ensure they can take advantage of the pink tide!

      Truly appreciate your insightful comment, Aydin!

      • And after reading the text, I didn’t make my above point as clear as I intended. I’ll alter that now. Thanks Aydin!


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