Charles Bieler is one of the best rose maker in the world; more importantly, he is one of the reasons the rose boom exists. For which we are all most grateful.
Charles Bieler was between jobs in the late 1990s when his father suggested Charles help sell the family rose in the U.S. Charles took up the challenge, painted a Cadillac pink, and traveled the country to convince retailers and restaurants to sell dry pink wine. As Charles says, that was at a time when everyone thought rose was sweet, and he truly wondered if dry rose had a future in the U.S.
Which, of course, it did. We talk about the rose boom, the pink Cadillac trip, and the challenges facing rose today — with advice on how to find the best cheap pink.
Check out these six roses — still cheap and delicious — for the blog’s 11th annual Memorial Day and rose celebration
Talk about the best kind of tasting fatigue — I sampled close 100 roses this year for the 11th annual Memorial Day and rose post, and I’m not tired of pink wine yet.
Rose, as noted, has been resilient enough to withstand the onslaught of high alcohol, lifestyle-designed bottles, and sweet rose passed off as dry. And why not? Many of the producers who make rose the right way do it as a labor of love. As one told me this spring: “Yes, I could charge more for it. But then fewer people would drink it, and I love rose enough that I want as many people as possible to drink it.”
So enjoy this year’s rose extravaganza. My six pinks are after the jump. But you should also check out the rose category link, which lists 11 years of rose reviews. And don’t overlook the blog’s rose primer, which discusses styles, why rose is dry, how it gets its pink color, and why vintage matters. Wines older than two years — 2016, in this case — are more likely to be off, tired, or worn out. Continue reading →
Because no one did, and it’s an insult to those of us who drink pink to claim we needed someone to point the way
This fall, three different PR flacks emailed me to make sure the world knew that their clients started the rose boom. And this doesn’t include the woman who wrote that social media was responsible – praise Instagram for all those hipsters and Millennials posing with their pink wine.
Why do we need “a founder” to explain the popularity of quality cheap wine? Why is everyone so surprised that wine drinkers discovered something inexpensive and enjoyable on their own?
Because, of course, wine drinkers aren’t supposed to be smart enough to figure it out for themselves. We need someone to tell us what to do. Isn’t that how the wine business works?
Know this, and know it now: Rose’s increased popularity was only surprising to everyone who wasn’t paying attention. Europeans have been drinking it for years, without any help from marketing types or social media gurus. The wine business and its allies in the Winestream Media were so busy telling us that we would be drinking whatever wine that they thought was cool that they didn’t notice what we were drinking.
And why not? It’s readily available. It’s almost always well made, even when it costs as little as $5 a bottle, and it’s rarely necessary to spend more than $10 a bottle to get a quality wine. Plus, it’s crisp, refreshing, and fruity. What more can anyone ask for in a cheap wine to enjoy on a Tuesday night in the middle of summer?
So why was rose such a surprise? Three reasons:
• U.S. wine drinkers weren’t supposed to be sophisticated enough to drink rose, because it was so European. After all, didn’t we – shudder – drink white zinfandel?
• Rose, because it doesn’t cost much, didn’t fit in with premiumization, the idea that we’re buying more expensive wine. So it wasn’t pricey enough to become a trend.
• It is a wonderfully exhilarating exception to what the wine business teaches consumers about wine: That we have to buy wine to pair with a meal or for a specific occasion. That rose exists regardless of what you eat with it or why you drink it is a revolutionary concept in the top-down, do what you’re told world of wine. This is, after all, where those of us who tell people to drink what they want are seen as the enemy.
So, no, no one invented rose. We drank it because we liked it. In the end, that may be the best part about the rose boom.
A version of this wine still exists, and it’s sold in Europe as Gallo white grenache rose, “A luscious, fruity wine with flavours of strawberry and citrus.” It costs about €5, or US$6. I’m also told that Gallo did a dry rose, made with grenache, in the early 1980s, “a lovely wine.”
My favorite part of the commercial (besides the epic 1950s hairdos)? “A pink wine… try chilled or over ice.” I could have written the copy for that, no?
These six roses are an all-star team for the blog’s 10th annual celebration of rose
The dramatic increase in rose’s popularity over the past couple of years means we have more great pink wine than ever. The difference in the number of roses worth drinking this year and when I did my first rose post 10 years ago is almost unbelievable – rose not just from Europe and California, but almost everywhere in the world. It’s something I never expected to see.
The downside? The wine business, and especially Big Wine, is trying to make rose over into a commodity like it has done with red blends, fake oak chardonnay, and pinot noir that doesn’t taste like pinot noir. That means their wines are slightly sweet and not especially crisp, as they aim at the “smooth” flavor their focus groups claim to like. There is also the trend toward red wine-like roses, much favored by the hipsters and their Hampton and Napa brethren.
There’s nothing wrong with these wines, of course, if that’s what you like. But almost all of the Big Wine efforts are labeled as dry rose, so those of us who expect crisp and fresh will be disappointed when the wine is soft and leaves that cotton candy feeling in the back of our mouth. And there is almost no way to tell which is which from anything written on the bottle.
Even so, enjoy this year’s rose bounty. My recommendations are after the jump, and you should also check out the rose category link, which lists 10 years of rose reviews. And don’t overlook the blog’s rose primer, which discusses styles, why rose is dry, how it gets its pink color, and why vintage matters.
Vintage, in fact, is especially important. Do not buy a rose older than two years, so 2015 is the limit this year. Otherwise, the wine will be tired, old, not crisp or fresh, and not worth drinking. If you have a choice between 2016 and 2015, always take the 2016.
The news is official, from not just Deadspin and Details, which are about as hipster as post-modern media get, but from Manhattan sommeliers — and even their more hip Brooklyn brethren: “Dude, we’re drinking rose.” “Bro, you are so right.”
This is so exciting that the Wine Curmudgeon, given his long love and advocacy of rose, is going to grow one of those hipster beards and wear one of those hipster hats. Because, dude, rose is freakin’ awesome. Fist bump here.
On the one hand, I should be thrilled that the hipsters have embraced rose, because anyone embracing rose is a good thing in the fight for quality cheap wine, given that it’s almost impossible to find a $10 pink wine that isn’t worth drinking. Plus, that people who may not know wine, who usually drink craft beer or artisan cocktails made with pickle brine, are now drinking rose is something to be much appreciated.
On the other hand, why is this trend — any wine trend, really — only official if a Manhattan sommelier approves of it? Why can’t it be a trend if a cranky, middle-aged ex-sportswriter who lives in the middle of the country approves of it? And, regardless of the personal insult to me, why isn’t it a trend because rose sales have been spiking upward for a couple of years — without any help from people who work at what the Details article called a Brooklyn “fauxhemian” hangout?
Just chill, dude.
Maybe so. The Wine Curmudgeon has been known to visit Manhattan (Brooklyn, even). So, in the spirit of rose-mance, I will bring rose with me the next time I go, and not the usual Provencal pink the hipsters know. How about South African rose? Or Spanish rose? Or even Texas rose? Because, bro, I want to, like, be totally cool with that.