HARDLY ANY WINE POLARIZES SO STRONGLY
#ROSÉALLDAY or No, Thanks?
Sales of rosé wines have been rising steeply for years and now account for 10.3 percent of global sales. However, some wine lovers stinkily reject the glass of rosé offered to them and want nothing to do with this “fizzy drink”. We recommend giving Provence by the glass a chance.
You can not get cheaper to the Côte d’Azur
The sight of a glass of rosé wine, immediately creates an image in the mind of lovers of French Provence: A bright blue sky, the wind from the sea, the scent of lavender and herbs, the pine forests and the joie de vivre of a carefree summer.
The European countries that drink above average rosé wine, such as Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are familiar with this attractive landscape in the south of France.
France is the world’s largest producer of rosé wines and the center of rosé wine production is in the south of France. It’s no surprise that during the Corona pandemic, according to the German Wine Institute, wine sales in the German market increased 12.5 percent year-over-year from April to June 2020, with rosé wine in particularly high demand, up 30 percent. When all travel plans to France are cancelled, the desire to bring French lifestyle into your glass at home is understandable.
Rosé wine is considered the wine of millennials. A glass of rosé always looks good on Instagram. The motifs of most rosé wine campaigns get by with two almost identical images: A gorgeous pool or a view of the ocean with two glasses of iced rosé wine in front of it.
While an older generation still remembers two prominent wine producers who dominated the European rosé wine market decades ago and rosé wine was seen as the wine drunk by ladies who don’t know anything about wine, the Millennial generation sees rosé wine as the wine that is simply fun to drink and makes a statement against wine snobs and complicated wine lists that weigh a lot of kilos.
Rosé wine is drunk more than average in the 24-35 age group, after which the curve drops steeply as age increases in most countries. France, the country with the greatest rosé wine tradition, is an exception. Here, people like to drink rosé even in old age.
Pink is not a color but an attitude
In Brazil, more men than women drink rosé wine, while in the USA, Russia and Australia there is no difference in rosé wine consumption between men and women. The Netherlands and Germany still show the largest gender difference within Europe. In both countries, rosé wine tends to be preferred by women.
Presumably, this statistic from the International Organization of Viticulture and Wine will soon be a thing of the past. Facebook’s U.S. list shows 50 different options for gender, from Agender, Androgyne to Transmasculine and Two-spirit.
For the first time in history, Pantone chose two hues as “color” of the year in 2016: rose quartz and serenity, a light blue. In 2017, the Pussy Hat movement demonstrated against sexist remarks by President Donald Trump with pink wool hats.
Pink has taken on a new status in fashion, art and culture. The Grand Budapest Hotel is emblazoned in rich pink on the poster for Wes Anderson’s cult film.
The hashtag #Roséallday is an expression for a fantastic summer day, stands equally for days on which nothing succeeds and which only seem to be bearable with rosé, is sometimes used with a certain disparagement but also self-irony.
Nothing must, everything can. Pink, in classical paintings the color for youth, today stands for a young spirit and is no longer defined in gender-specific terms.
How does rosé wine get its color?
The colors of rosé wine range from a very delicate, pale rosé, which can hardly be distinguished from white wine, to a darker shade, more reminiscent of orange. The lighter the shade of rosé, the greater the chances of sales in the trade.
The color is related to the method of making rosé wine and the grapes used to make it. There are four basic methods of making rosé wine, which vary from country to country, from region to region, and from winery to winery, and are readily discussed in expert circles.
The simplest method
The seemingly simplest method is to blend white wine and red wine. According to European wine law, this is forbidden within Europe. With one exception, this method may be used exclusively for the production of rosé Champagne, which is regionally protected for the French region of Champagne.
The bleeding method
Saignée, or bleeding, is the name given to a method of making rosé wine in which part of the macerated grape juice intended for making red wine is removed from the tank after a few hours for the rosé wine, while the rest of the grape juice is allowed to develop into a concentrated classic red wine over a longer period of time and further production steps.
To this day, experts cite François Millo, then President of Viticulture of Provence, who condemned the saignée method at the International Wine Fair in London in 2012, with the view that a rosé produced in this way is not a true rosé wine. Red wine producers using the saignée method would only be interested in making a quick extra income by filling a few bottles with rosé wine, while their true passion was for concentrated red wine.
Rosé wine produced by this method often has a distinct aroma and is by no means the inferior rosé wine. Monsieur Millo understandably did not see the expertise of the winemakers he represents in Provence, who have focused on producing rosé wines for many years, appreciated.
And he had a point: many wine drinkers still do not take rosé wine seriously, even though the quality of rosé wine has improved greatly over the last 25 years.
The time-critical method
Red wine grapes are harvested between 10-20 days earlier than they would be if red wine were made using this method. The goal is to achieve a balance between freshness and aromaticity. If you wait a few days too long, the rosé may lack freshness; if you start harvesting too early, the aromatics may come up short.
The outside temperature at the time of harvest also plays a role in the freshness of the rosé, so in warmer regions, such as Provence, harvesting is sometimes done at night to transport the grapes in cooler temperatures for further processing. The grapes are then (usually) stripped of stems and lightly crushed to allow the color and flavor compounds found in the skins to enter the juice.
The pulp, seeds, skins, and juice of the grapes are turned into the so-called mash. The longer the mash remains in this state, the more intense the subsequent color and aroma of the wine. For rosé wine, a few hours are long enough. The cellar master observes the process and continuously tests the mash state again and again in order to break off the uncontrolled fermentation state with the help of yeasts when he believes he has found the optimal balance between color, freshness and aroma.
Rosé wine can be made from the must juice, where the weight of the grapes alone is enough to crush, but rapid pressing of the grapes is also possible.
The charcoal method
More rarely, the method is used to extract the red color components from a wine that has already taken on a dark red color on its way to becoming a red wine, by means of activated charcoal, and to turn a red color into a rosé. Since the activated carbon filters out not only the color but also other components that are crucial for the taste, this method is not used for quality rosé wines.
The silver bullet?
There isn’t. While the blending of white and red wines is prohibited by European wine law, with the exception of Champagne production, renowned American winemakers sometimes work with a combination of methods: red wine grapes are processed very quickly, so that the skins can hardly release any colorants into the later wine. This very light rosé wine is then blended with a classic red wine to obtain aromatics and a darker reddish color in this way.
All over the world there are different combinations of the above methods and each winemaker swears by his method. The contact of the grapes with the skins can last 1-2 hours, but also 24 hours.
At professional wine tastings, the specific method of production is discussed. The end consumer rarely finds any indication of the production method of the particular rosé wine. A reference on the back label of the bottle or in the description of the wine in the online store is rare.
The Rosé Dilemma
There is hardly a topic that is discussed so emotionally in viticulture. Red wine vintners who derive part of the grape juice for the production of rosé wine using the saignée method are accused of being interested only in easy money, but not in the rosé wine itself. Chateau Cash Flow is the accusation, which these winemakers angrily reject, pointing to the excellent aromatics of their rosé wines.
Moreover, rosé wines produced in this way often have a longer shelf life and do not have to be sold off at discounts at the end of the summer. Since these rosé wines are often darker in color, they have a harder time on the shelves than the popular very light rosé wines that literally fly off the shelves on warm summer days.
There are winemakers who produce well-selling pale pink rosé wines in order to be able to pay their bills and offer true dark rosé treasures only at professional events or in the so-called back room. And, of course, rosé wine can now be found in metal cans in the refrigerated section right next to beer cans. Everything goes and at the same time makes it difficult for rosé wine.
Rosé wine sells itself on the image of lightness -the serious rosé wine producers argue that quality lightness is the most difficult to produce.
Rosé wine and Hollywood
The U.S. is, after France, the largest market for rosé wine sales and production. Rosé wine sales there are growing faster than any other wine category, with annual growth rates of 40 percent. Rosé wines take up several meters of shelf space at some wine retailers there.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got into this business very early with their Chãtau Miraval. Bon Jovi owns a winery that produces rosé wine in Languedoc, and Sarah Jessica Parker markets rosé wine from Provence with a New Zealand wine company.
Chinese rosé wine is just at the beginning of what could be another success story.
Pleasure with a history
High-quality rosé wine has a long European tradition, albeit as a niche wine. Tavel, a strong rosé wine from the southern Rhone Valley, for example, is by no means just a light summer wine, but can be stored for several years and is traditionally served with expressive fatty sausages or spicy dishes.
To categorically reject rosé wine would be a shame. There are worlds between canned rosé wine and a traditional Tavel, with many very interesting rosé wines to discover. A good rosé wine is by no means only a summer wine, but can be very well combined with hearty dishes. It balances the dish, but is usually lighter than a red wine. An expressive rosé is an excellent match for the delicious bouillabaisse and its companions baguette and the mayonnaise-like rouille. Precisely because it is neither white wine nor red wine.