Rose now accounts for a record one in eight bottles of wine bought in supermarkets and off-licences, up from one in 40 in the year 2000.
Sales of rose wine in shops are currently worth £646 million in Britain, nearly £1.8 million a day, according to figures from market analysts Nielsen.
While growth in rose wine buying has slowed in recent years – attributed to poor summer weather – experts believe it is becoming a drink that is enjoyed all year round.
It is especially popular among women drinkers on a night out or sharing a bottle at home with friends.
Some winemakers have specifically targeted women drinkers by making less strong varieties with a typical alcohol by volume level of nine or 10 per cent, compared with other wines which can be up to 14 per cent in some cases.
Twelve per cent of all wine bought outside of pubs is now rose, compared to 2.7 per cent in 2000.
Julian Dyer, general manager of wine distributors Australian Vintage UK, said: “Rose will always have a stronger performance with hot sunny weather, but as it has grown as a category, there are now rose drinkers who are loyal to it all-year round.
“While the wider picture shows we are all still seeing the effects of the recession, there are success stories, such as rose.
“As a category, rose came to the party late so there has always been a precedent for stepping away from the norm and being a bit more forward thinking.
“Winemakers have been successful by listening to consumers who are seeking refreshing wines in lighter and more off-dry styles.
Mr Dyer added: “The rose category is a good example of a wider trend of consumers choosing their wine by style as opposed to country or region of origin.
Martin Green, from Off Licence News magazine, said: “At the turn of the century rose was the Austin Allegro of the wine world – cheap, unfashionable and something you would never want to bring to a dinner party.
“It represented just 2.7 per cent of the UK off-trade wine category and that was mainly used to quench the thirst of young women riding around in pink limos on summer evenings – about as classy as the pink stuff in their plastic cups.
“But like hoodies, iPods, Justin Bieber and the text abbreviation OMG, its popularity rocketed during the Noughties.
“Quality has soared in line with demand as winemakers realise rose’s potential for increasing profits and the importance of producing and marketing rose in its own right as opposed to regarding it as a byproduct of red wine.
“If further proof of its status were needed, Hollywood A-listers are tapping into rose’s new found chic.
“The 6,000 bottle release of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s first vintage from their Chateaux Miraval estate sold out within five hours – at about £88 per six-bottle case.”
The most popular rose sold in the UK include Californian brands Blossom Hill, Gallo and Echo Falls, while those from Provence in the south of France are gaining in popularity.
Valerie Lelong, of the Provence Wine Council, which exports six per cent of its rose to the UK, said: “The weather definitely has an impact on rose consumption.
“Consumers are keener to drink a wine synonymous with holidays, relaxation and time with friends when the weather is nice.”
Recently, I was in a conversation with a Burgundy wine producer whose wines I admire very much. I teased him about how reluctant Burgundians are to acknowledge somewhere on a wine label that a Bourgogne rouge is Pinot Noir (and possibly Gamay) and that a Bourgogne blanc is Chardonnay.
”Would it kill you to add this information somewhere on the label?” I asked.
”Actually, it would,” he replied, in all seriousness. “It would be the death of French wine civilization.”
For once in my life I was speechless. I mean, here we are in the 21st century, where communication is paramount, and you’ve got the equivalent of an aboriginal wine tribe still sending smoke signals.
What is it about wine that makes so many otherwise intelligent, interesting and ambitious people cling to habits and patterns that simply no longer work? To paraphrase from the best-selling business book, here are “The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Wine People.”
“I am a winemaker. Not a shepherd or a steward.” Sine Qua Non founder Manfred Krankel spoke those words during the third day of Wine Spectator‘s New World Wine Experience, and I started clapping. Then I realized I was the only person clapping in a room packed with 800 people and sheepishly stopped. I shouldn’t have.
The Wine Experience is Wine Spectator‘s annual gathering of the best winemakers in the world for three days of tasting, talking and having fun. The whole weekend provides a chance to discover some great terroirs—you can taste wines from more than 200 wineries, often from regions you’ve never tried—and chat with the people behind the wines. The winemaker or owner is often the one pouring. It’s a chance to learn from some of the best.
But I often feel like people who work in wine (or write about it) like to pretend that winemakers don’t actually matter.
“If I was a winemaker and I made wine that tasted the same five years in a row, I would consider myself a failure.” This statement was greeted by a soft gasp of shock and then an uncomfortable silence that settled around the dinner table. The identity of the person who made the opening statement will forever remain a mystery, but I will try to shed some light upon the unique (and sometimes volatile) relationship between the winemaker, the marketing team and the consumer.
‘Death of a Salesman’ is a 1949 play written by American playwright Arthur Miller. It tells the story of Willy Loman, a failed salesman, who ultimately commits suicide. This flawed, but valiant deed marked the end of an unremarkable sales career. The reality is this: salespeople in the wine business are still under increasing pressure, as is the winemaker as well as the consumer. Seeing that the consumer has to fork out hard earned cash to enjoy some wine, it is up to the marketing team to convince the consumer to buy the winemaker’s wine. It is thus clear that there needs to be very good communication between the winemaker and the marketing team. All of this is old hat. What might not be that apparent, is that there exists two extreme opposite paradigms in the winemaking world.
Paradigm one: Based on extensive market research, the winemaker obtains information on existing markets and what their requirements are. Here the winemaker relies heavily on the interpretation and rendition of current markets by die marketing team. Past experience, current trends and forecasts are buzz words here. A quality level for each market segment is determined and wine is made and marketed according to the consumer preference of each segment. Forgive me, for I’m of course greatly reducing the complexity of the science that is involved in marketing and market research. If I may simplify even further, within this scenario the winemaker makes what the different markets want.
Paradigm two: The winemaker makes wine according to his taste and whims. The market is ostensibly much smaller than those described in paradigm one, seeing that consumers need to share the taste of the winemaker or need to adapt. During my stint in a big cellar in California, I met a highly eccentric winemaker who personified the second paradigm of winemaking. He was of the opinion that winemakers like him are part of a dying breed and winemakers should not be dictated by market preferences. In his own words: “If you like my wine, you buy it. If you don’t like it, *$#@* off!” I really liked this cowboy and I decided to stir the pot a little by pointing out that I’ve had excellent wines from wineries/winemakers representing both of the above mentioned paradigms. You can just imagine the earful that I got then…
Let’s revert to the opening statement: “If I was a winemaker and I made wine that tasted the same five years in a row, I would consider myself a failure.” Theoretically, an exceptional year will yield exceptional wine. This will probably change (improve?) the taste of the wine, if compared to a standard. The million dollar question is: Will your market accept the different taste or will you be met with a lynch mob?
You might want to ponder this whilst having a glass of wine. After all… “In vino veritas.”
Bernard Mocke is a technical consultant for Oenobrands