TORONTO GLOBE & MAIL – Rosé wines are great, and sales are booming

Can I ask a personal question? Have you ever sipped a pink wine in private?

There’s no cause for shame. In fact, that’s not at all what I’m implying. Rosé sales are booming globally, nowhere more than in France, where the category has overtaken red in popularity. And if you’re like most wine consumers, you’ll gladly partake in a glass, especially during spring and summer months – on a patio, say, or as part of a picnic or at a special celebration like a wedding or Mother’s Day.

But have you uncorked a bottle at home with a family meal or by the TV the way you would a red or white? If so, you’re in a minority. That’s partly what I gleaned from a study last year presented at the international conference of the Academy of Wine Business Research in Germany by researchers from France, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The group polled 947 consumers from those countries on attitudes toward rosé. There were a few encouraging observations (rosé is not strongly seen as “feminine,” even among British men, as might have been the case in the past), but one theme stuck out for me more than others. While there were variations in responses from each country, pink wine remains strongly associated with festive gatherings and sunshine – in short, the sort of drink you’d reach for when the weather calls for sunglasses (which, come to think of it, would give it a red appearance).

That bias irks many rosé producers I know, who vinify their wines with the same care as any other. Most good rosés are in fact generally made much like white wine, only with red grapes; the tint comes from brief contact with the colour-bearing skins before the juice is drawn off and subjected to cool fermentation. There’s a corollary, too. In France and the U.S. in particular (there were no Canadians in the survey), respondents tended to dismiss rosé as a wine unworthy of gift giving when you want “to impress someone.” Ouch. But some of us think otherwise, don’t we? The top two of the dry selections below would, I think, qualify as sophisticated gifts for just about any occasion, including Mother’s Day. Certainly more so than a pair of Spanx or a bathroom scale. And they’d make a nice treat if you’re dining in private. No Ray-Bans necessary.


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