Rosé’s surging popularity has burst over the wine world like fireworks on Bastille Day and with this long overdue elevation to respectability, consumption is soaring.
As Shyda Gilmer, COO of New York retailer Sherry-Lehmann, explains “Rosé sales have continued to grow by double digits over the last five years. It used to be that we had a rosé season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day you didn’t want to be out of rosé. Now, we sell as much in December as we used to do in August.”
He’s seen double digit growth, year on year, for the last five years, and anticipates the same in 2016. There’s also been a three-fold increase in the number of brands he carries over the same period, the growth being largely driven by France, especially Provence: 75% of his rosé sales are from those sunny climes.
He attributes rosé’s installation as le vin du jour to consumers realizing its value.“There’s incredible value in rose, from $15 to $50”. (I would say from $10 when you consider the Spanish versions.) “Value in terms of what you can get for your money. Then, ten years ago you thought of rosé as something for a ladies’ lunch, now we’re seeing rosé consumed by everybody. It matches the trend towards lighter, fresher food.”
There is a real buzz surrounding the category at the moment, I get asked about it frequently by casual consumers, especially this time of year, and Gilmer hears it too: “We’ve had people calling us since March, ‘When will the 15’s be available? We want to place an order. We don’t want to miss out.”
But there are a few dark clouds blotting this azure Mediterranean sky: the surge in demand has led to a shortage of grapes, especially quality grapes in Provence. Wine grapes are widgets; you can’t just dial up a hundred thousand extra liters because America has discovered your wine.
Gilmer concurs, telling me that “The rosé shortage is real, at least at the highest quality level.”
Last spring, I was sitting next to the winemaker from an extremely popular Provence producer at a promotional lunch, and rather indiscreetly he confessed that the biggest problem he faced was getting enough good grapes. This might explain why there has been a perceptible fall off in the brand’s quality, though this doesn’t seem to have affected its sales, which continue to soar.
In light of this it’s important to remember one doesn’t have to spend $50 to drink good rosé. This is not a serious wine, it’s wine made in September to be drunk the next summer. It’s not quite as speedy a journey from vineyard to table as that fashionable wine of a generation ago, Beaujolais Nouveau, but it’s pretty close.
Continue reading: Forbes