What’s happening to my beloved rosé?

Why can’t the wine trade just let winemakers produce rosé for the ‘punter’?

I am starting to lose my passion for the deliciously ‘slurpable’ style of pink wine, so popular at this height of an Aussie summer. I feel that rosé as a wine style should be all about enjoying summer. The wine should be cold, a bright and inviting pink colour, have refreshing acidity, be fruit-driven, relatively cheap, and easy to drink. All the qualities that we sun-bronzed folk appreciate when the mercury tops 30 degrees C! Of late, I’m starting to find increasing complexity, high alcohol, reductions in sugar and other indicators of wine-making intervention in my beloved ‘crimson hints of summer’. Why is this so??

Let me share my marketing advice with any winery wishing to make rosé (and this advice is free, so you should at least look): Rosé, like Riesling, is one of a winery’s best opportunities to generate cash-flow quickly and easily. Exploit the market, we really don’t mind when we purse our lips to enjoy the flush of our cheeks with the joy a rosé brings to imbiber, and friends alike.

In simple terms, you only need to pick the grapes early(ish), crush and macerate on skins for up to 8 hours to gain a bright and pretty pink colour, drain the juice off, ferment (leaving residual sugar to balance the acidity for a wine served at around 4 degrees C), ‘clean up’ and bottle. Then release to the market in attractive packaging- ‘fresh as a daisy’. You can’t ask for a better opportunity to free up space in the winery and generate cash quickly!

For the doubters of my claim, just consider the market leading rosés…. For anyone with a track record in wine consumption, you would have heard of Mateus rosé. This simple, sweet, slightly spritzy pale pink wine was widely available and very popular for decades. To give you a more recent example from the Adelaide market, unless you have had your ears plugged over the last few years, you must have heard of Rockford Alicante Bouchet. In certain retailers the wine is still only available by allocation. The wine is arguably the market leading rosé. Other popular brands are Turkey Flat’s Rosé and Charles Melton’s Rose of Virginia. All of these wines are bright pink, ‘zesty’, fruit-driven, refreshing examples of pink wine. And yes, they all have perceptible (and thoroughly enjoyable) residual sugar!

Despite the increase in brands in this wine style over the past few years, these brands consistently lead the market. Many new entrants offer a dryer style, or softer style, or more complex style of rosé. I say, look at my comments above, and then ask yourself why your rosé isn’t selling.

A common fault is that producers ask the wine trade (and/or critics) what to do with their suggested new pink wine. Unfortunately, the wine trade is far more concerned with ‘serious’ wines and often suggest that rosé should be more serious. If you need a more objective view, ask a member of the wine trade to indicate the rosé they prefer to drink, if any. You can then make a decision as to whether to take their advice on a rosé you intend to make.

I recently asked a friend starting a degree in wine-making, to promise me that he would make a rosé for the ‘punter’. He promised he would, and I’m looking forward to his first attempt. Like any good marketer, I say- look at what the market likes, then make your decision on what to produce. You may not earn any kudos among the wine trade fraternity for producing a ‘less serious’ wine, but the consumer will love you for it, and your accountant will too!


3 thoughts on “What’s happening to my beloved rosé?

  1. Yet oddly enough Beaujolais is still a pretty big seller in Europe and around the world. Not rose, but light red. Not sweet and simple, it is accessible but somewhat serious – seriously easy drinking.

  2. Ah yes, good grist for the mill….

    We discussed two examples of light red wine at a tasting last Friday. I’ll leave it to Pedro to comment on the wines and the outcome.

    My take on the comparison was that there is room for both of these styles of light red wine in the market.


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