The Democracy of Wine – forget the snobs

BY Anna
October 3, 2015

October 3, 2015 The Democracy of Wine – forget the snobs

BY Anna

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Until recently, rosé wine has been deemed a frivolous wine. Wine drinkers who consider themselves to be ‘serious’ about their tipple wouldn’t be seen dead with a glass, determining that rosé is not even ‘real’ wine. In the last few years, however, rosé has seen a significant surge in popularity, and it is increasingly being chosen as an enjoyable year-round wine option, particularly by younger or more fashion-conscious drinkers.

And yet, the debate still rages. Many people continue to believe that rosé wine is an unacceptable beverage for grown-ups (and particularly grown-up men) to drink in social situations. In a recent survey, many Americans admitted that they wouldn’t give a bottle of rosé wine as a gift to someone they wanted to impress. Nevertheless, several wine critics have recently changed their tune, and there has been a flood of love for this previously underrated drink. Even the New York Times‘ Eric Asimov, who is known for his dismissal of many rosés and their indiscriminate popular appeal, recently released a list of recommended pink wines, suggesting that ‘your cookout guests may even do double-takes before asking for another glass.’

chateau-des-enclansTaking the debate further, Steve Heimoff uses rosé to exemplify his belief that wine criticism has become ‘mannered, adhering to a strict canon, rather rigid,’ and that it needs to be ‘shook up—intelligently‘.  The Telegraph‘s Anthony Peregrine recently claimed that ‘with rosé – crucially – there’s not just fun and frivolity. There’s a vital veneer of sensuality.’ He looks down on the idea of ‘serious wines’ as a pretentious invention, and is convinced that those who consider themselves ‘wine buffs’ are ‘mainly insane‘.

And yet surely these latter arguments are missing part of the point. It’s all very well to poke fun at po-faced wine snobs and drink rosé wine in defiance of their prejudices, but one of the key reasons that rosé has grown in estimation recently is that the product available to the American consumer has improved hugely in quality. Rosé was rarely drunk in the past because most of the rosé available was headache-inducing: sugary sweet and usually extremely cheap. In something of a catch-22, winemakers didn’t make better rosé, because they knew it wouldn’t be drunk and even if it was, the price point was much lower than other wines. In recent years however, America is starting to discover Provence rosé, and rosé is now rapidly growing in popularity.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]henri-jayer-richebourg-1985Nowadays, stores are more willing to take on lesser-known labels and newer brands, particularly if it means they get them at a reduced rate. Generally speaking, rosés from Provence are almost always of good quality and thus even a cheaper Provence rosé is never as undrinkable as some of the cheapest oaked chardonnays or a vinegary red. In fact, the most expensive rosé available (by the Provençal winemakers Château d’Esclans) retails at $113, a snip compared the most expensive red wine: a 1985 bottle of Richebourg Grand Cru from Burgundy will set you back $17,337.

The younger generation has a new-found buying power when it comes to wine, as they turn from spirits and beer in favor of a more sophisticated choice. In the habit of buying good value wine from a young age, brand, grape and, more importantly, color loyalties are built early by young professionals. Less trammeled by the traditional gender boundaries of older generations, millennials are less likely to be put off by the idea of drinking something pink. As their spending power grows, more of them are choosing rosé as a pleasant, versatile and affordable option.

The conclusion they are drawing is both clear and valuable: drink what you like, not what someone else tells you to like. The whole wine industry is set up in opposition to this idea, as numerous experts, columnists and clubs try to guide us towards ‘good’ wine, which often means expensive wine. A bad choice, they seem to suggest, might make us appear socially inadequate.

But social values are shifting, and a proliferation of international vineyards means that decent wine can be bought at relatively cheap prices. The guests who are going to be offended that you haven’t pulled out the Château Lafite probably aren’t worth the bother. Put a bottle of rosé on the table, and everyone should be happy. A new democracy of wine is beginning.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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