The voices cry "Rosé all day" or "Drink Pink" and even "Stop and Smell the Rosé."
So what's going on with Rosé wine? For the last few years, Rosé has gone from a Spring and Summer warm weather sipper to a wine drunk pretty much year round. Like most new fads (I need to be cautious about calling this a fad) once a large enough group of wine drinkers "discovered" the pink elixir, they spread the word like wildfire.
People who had only thought of pink wine as being that sweet concoction "White Zinfandel" had never known this style of wine existed, or worse, thought it to be the same! Now they were finding that pink didn't necessarily mean sweet.
These drier versions, which are made now throughout the world in many styles, tended to be from France and predominantly from the South around Provence, were Rosé accounts for half to two-thirds of total wine production in that area. I recall in my early days of wine exploration seeing mostly the French versions. I also grew to realize, for me anyway, that Rosés seemed innocuous (word of the day thing). Not bad, just similar. This issue comes up again later, so please read on....please, do I have to beg??
Rosés are showing meteoric increases in sales. By most accounts, last year 2017, sales in the U.S. showed a better than 50% increase in dollar sales of Rosés. That no small feat. While it still only accounts for a small fraction of total wine sales, maybe 2% depending on who you talk to. While harder to get specific sales numbers, Rosés are now being produced in record numbers throughout the world. It is such a "fad" that Rosés are being produced by so many more wineries, leading to a variety of styles.
This leads me to the reason for my post (I know, about time).
I had the opportunity to pour at a recent tasting. To me, it was almost historic in nature as it was an "All Rosé" tasting. I've seen a couple smaller ones around, but this one had 40 or so different wines to sample. Coincidentally, it was also Rosé day. So here's where when I mentioned my thinking that most Rosés seemed "innocuous" comes into play.
This may be a good time to explain the different methods of making Rosés. The primary way is what is sometimes called the "Direct Press" method. Simply, the wine is pressed from the grapes and then (assuming you're using some selection of red skinned grapes) you leave the juice in contact with the skins until the desired color is achieved. Another method, sometimes referred to as Saignée (from French bleeding), requires that the winemaker literally "bleeds off" a portion of red wine production that then becomes a Rosé. Lastly, is adding a portion of red wine to a white wine to get the desired color. This "blending" is not in common use and forbidden in some areas except Champagne, where the addition of a small amount of red wine as a part of the dosage (that's the small amount of solution added after disgorgement to help begin the second fermentation in the bottle) is allowed.
Why have so many wines when they are almost all going to taste alike I thought, or at least a good number of them. Fortunately, I ran into a husband and wife duo that I know and I asked that when they had completed the tasting to return and give me their thoughts about the tasting. They politely did so and it enlightened me.
Two main issues emerged from this tasting. The first was that at tastings where Rosés may be available but spread out throughout the stations, it is difficult to really compare. Makes sense so far. The second was, and this is something that should have been more obvious, even to me, is the selection opens up new avenues for the numerous styles and flavors that are now coming to market. In the past, I did pour at an "All Cabernet" tasting. While having the same issues (too many and too similar), I didn't see it in that manner. Okay, starting to make more sense to me. Even this old dog can learn new tricks! (See how I snuck in the old part?)
I do believe that there are going to be larger Rosé tastings, and if you're a fan, I highly recommend that you attend. So feel free to use the rallying cry "Rosé all day," "Drink Pink" or "Stop and Smell the Rosé."