CAPITOL FILE MAGAZINE

HOW ROSÉ BECAME THE WINE OF SUMMER

Summer’s favorite sip has matured into a wine for all seasons.

In the not-so-distant past, rosé wine was little more than a cheap tipple unknown outside the South of France. “You would buy it in what we call un pichet—a pitcher—like sangria,” recalls Paul Chevalier, winemaker and National Fine Wine Director at Shaw-Ross International Importers. “It didn’t even come in a bottle.” Fast forward to 2017, however, and that reputation is all but demolished. Chevalier is partly responsible for the wine’s meteoric rise in the last decade: his championing of St.-Tropez’s Château d’Esclans and its roster of outstanding rosés—Rock Angel, Les Clans, Garrus, and the ever-popular Whispering Angel—has helped propel them to the status of household names for any oenophile. Whispering Angel, Château d’Esclans’s delicately hued best-seller, with its refreshing palette of peach, cherry, and citrus balanced by a subtle mineral edge, actually outsells all other rosés in America by a stunning four to one.

And with good reason: Côtes de Provence rosés are made with zero sugar, making them more drinkable and complex than those Kool-Aid-colored varieties stuck in so many wine drinkers’ imaginations. Their unique flavor also makes them a match for almost any cuisine. “The taste profile starts like a white but finishes like a red,” says Chevalier. “Rosé is probably the most versatile wine for pairing. It goes with light food, yes, but also Asian, spicy; it really goes across the whole spectrum.”

All of these benefits mean that rosé has morphed into a beverage that commands the same respect as Champagne. “Yes, you can have rosé by the pool, but you can have it for a celebration as well,” says Chevalier. Top event planners, like Annie Lee of boutique firm Daughter of Design, have noticed this shift as well. “It is synonymous with summer socializing, but is perfectly elegant enough for black-tie occasions,” she says. And for younger generations, there may be more cachet to drinking something other than standard bubbly. “Fifty percent of Whispering Angel consumers are millennials,” says Chevalier. “They’re not obsessed with Champagne; they want rosé, and at all different occasions. They have it for Thanksgiving, for the holidays, in the evening… If you have a big bottle, it becomes a party!”