Let’s celebrate the start of Rose Week — the blog’s 11th annual celebration — with the rose trends and non-trends that are dominating pink wine
Tim McNally, the New Orleans wine writer, judge, critic, and radio host, talking about rose trends 2018: “Given the unfortunate development path of pinot noir in America, I guess we should have foreseen what they were going to try to do to rose.”
And that, as well as anything I can write, sums up rose trends 2018. Important parts of the wine business, both here and in France, have decided to change rose into something else, in the same way they changed pinot noir into a fruiter, darker, more cabernet sauvignon-like wine.
More than one-third of the 100 or so roses I’ve tasted this year were made to appeal to some sort of idealized red wine drinker – heavier and less fresh, more alcoholic, and tasting of the tannins and bitterness associated with red wine. That almost all of them cost more than $20 added insult to injury.
In other words, everything that rose isn’t. To which the Wine Curmudgeon says, “Nuts.”
Because, despite these most unwelcome developments, rose is healthier than ever. Yes, there are some truly aggravating pink wines out there, and yes, prices have soared in many cases. But there are still dozens and hundreds of roses that taste like rose and cost less than $12. We’ll feature those wines on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, along with a three-book giveaway on Thursday.
These changes have happened for four reasons:
• Higher prices, of course, are part of premiumization. In addition, more high-end wineries are making rose, so they’re not going to sell $10 wine for $10 (even if they could afford to, which most can’t).
• Many of these high-end producers, especially in California, are known for making red wine. They’re only making rose because it’s trendy (I actually got a news release that sort of said that). So they’re terrified that if they made a fresh and crisp pink wine, their loyal customers wouldn’t know what to do with it.
• Because $25 wine can’t be made the same way as $10 wine. Otherwise, it would be $10 wine. Hence the need to “improve” it – oaking it, for example, or making it riper and more alcoholic, even if that turns it into another kind of wine.
• More expensive packaging and marketing. One of the world’s leading rose makers told me that grape costs for his $10 French rose and for a world-famous celebrity rose were about the same. But, he said, the latter charges twice as much because it spends the difference for a “nicer” bottle and to market the product to the Winestream Media.
Yes, some roses are worth $25 or $30 or $40. But it’s almost impossible to buy a bad bottle of rose for $10. If you spend more than $15, expect it to be spectacular. First and foremost, ignore the hype and buy what you want. Because if we do that, no amount of $25 rose that tastes like cabernet will matter.