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St. Supéry Sips
Episode 7: All About Rosé
Rosé is More Than Just a Summertime Wine
As summer kicks into high gear, many wine drinkers’ thoughts turn to rosé. Produced all over the world from many different grape varieties, these diverse pink wines are made in a wide variety of styles, from pale and refreshing quaffers to intensely flavored versions that can stand up to just about any dish on the dinner table.
A decade ago, rosé was viewed mainly as a seasonal wine, with spring releases sold out by September. However, noted St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery CEO Emma Swain in a recent episode of the St. Supéry Sips podcast, that is no longer the case.
“It certainly doesn’t seem to be that way today,” she said. “Rosé is taking a much greater role throughout the year.”
Joining Swain on this rosé-themed podcast episode were Wendy Stanford, director of category management for imported wines at Wine.com, and Nicole Haarklau, food and beverage director at Hotel Vin, an Autograph Collection property in Grapevine, Texas.
Rosé on the Rise
With rosé’s popularity booming, sales are projected to grow nearly 70% by 2024. One of the reasons behind its success, Stanford said, is the category’s accessibility and simplicity.
“There might be some intimidation when it comes to choosing a wine to bring to a dinner party or even at the table,” she said. “[Consumers] may not know much about regions or particular vintages that are good, and rosé can be a nice middle ground.”
At Wine.com, rosé doesn’t only sell in the spring and summer months. The category now accounts for 4% of the platform’s total business.
At Hotel Vin in Texas, guests still view rosé as a warm-weather wine, with sales ramping up in late April. “It might just be a lifestyle thing here,” Haarklau said, “where people associate it with summer, the beach and pools.”
To help expand guests’ perceptions of rosé, the hotel is starting to feature it at wine dinners during the winter. “I think we still have some work to do to get to the point where people are consuming it year-round,” she said, “at least on-premise.”
While long-held perceptions persist that rosé must be consumed within six months of release, that mindset is beginning to change.
“There is a preconceived notion that you are meant to drink it super fresh,” said Stanford, “but [our customers] are perfectly happy to buy rosés that are one to two years old, particularly if it’s a brand they know and trust.”
Provence in the Lead
French rosé is a favorite among Wine.com shoppers, commanding 65% percent of the platform’s pink wine sales. In comparison, U.S. wines make up just 17% of sales. Selections from Provence, with their pale pink hue and crisp flavor profile, remain the category leaders, despite efforts to introduce consumers to different styles and regions.
“There is a sort of aspirational feeling around [it],” Stanford noted. “I think it does invoke that Mediterranean feel.”
Brand loyalty also plays an important role in rosé sales. Wine.com sold nearly 800 different rosé brands during the past year, yet only 10 producers represent one-third of the category’s sales volume. Stanford attributes this to savvy marketing, and in the case of brands such as Hampton Water—created by rocker Jon Bon Jovi’s son, Jesse—celebrity backing.
Getting consumers to venture beyond Provence is a challenge that will require extra effort and education on the part of wine professionals.
“There is some exploration into other regions and other styles, but we’ve learned that it is hard to convince [people] to buy something like Tavel. I think the perception there is that darker means sweeter,” Stanford said. “Tavel is certainly a dry wine and an incredible food-pairing wine, but I think it’s going to take some continued education to get customers to understand that.”
Overcoming the image of American rosé as sweet and cheaply made—a holdover from the 1980s White Zinfandel boom—is another factor.
“For a long time, we were stuck with rosé having a bad reputation,” Haarklau said. “It’s not necessarily a sweet wine and there can be complexity to it. I think we’re finally in a place now where people are understanding that.”
The Future of Rosé
While French wines currently dominate the rosé category in sales volume, Haarklau predicts that other regions will gain some ground as supply chain challenges continue.
“France is going to continue to go strong for quite some time, but I also think we’re nearing a peak,” she said. “With the increasing costs of importing and supply chain issues, we’ll see a lot more wine consumers drinking from California and [other regions in] the United States.”
Stanford sees a similar future for pink wines. “I also agree that there’s opportunity for wines from the U.S.,” she said. “There’s a lot of love for California out there. I think we just need to keep educating and keep giving customers choices.”
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July 12, 2022