Summer is here and shop shelves are filled with pink wine. Rosé isn’t just for summer any more, but sales do rise at this time of the year and so it is appropriate to take a look at global market developments. Herewith five Rosé market trends to watch.
Pink Prosecco is a Thing
I have tasted a number of refreshing pink sparkling wines from northeast Italy in recent years. I remember one in particular that was a blend of Glera, the Prosecco grape variety, and Raboso, an energetic red (Raboso means “angry” in the Venetian language). It was like a pink Prosecco, but couldn’t be called that because the DOC rules didn’t allow for it. The rules have changed for this year’s releases, however, and Prosecco DOC Rosé is now authorized. The wines must contain at least 85% Glera with 10-15% Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) to supply the pink tone.
Prosecco has been a hot wine market category in recent years and Rosé sales have surged, too, so how will Prosecco Rosé be received? It will be interesting to find out. As a side note, I am impressed with the entrepreneurial attitude of the Prosecco consortium. Many appellations stick to the old rules even when the market shifts, forcing producers to move to IGT wines. The introduction of Prosecco DOC Rosé shows an awareness of market trends and a willingness to seize the moment to build market potential.
The French Pink Paradox
A new report called Rosé Wines World Tracking 2021 has been released that provides information about global Rosé wine trends through 2019. Sifting through the data it is hard to miss the central importance of France in this market segment. France was the #1 producer of Rosé wines in 2019 with 34 percent of global output and the #1 consumer of Rosé wines with 35 percent of global sales.
France was #1, too, in per capita Rosé wine consumption at 15.l liters per person. Uruguay was #2 in per capita terms followed by Cyprus, Belgium, and Switzerland. The pink tide is on the rise in many regions — Australia once exported Rosé but is now a net importer according to the report.
With so much Rosé produced you would expect France to be a leading exporter. And it is. Provence is especially dependent on Rosé export sales, for example. More than 90 percent of Provence wines are pink! But — and this is the paradox — France is actually the #1 Rosé wine importer by volume and #3 (after the US and UK) by value. France imports inexpensive Rosé from Spain, for example, and exports more expensive Rosé to the rest of the world. The average ex-cellar price of French Rosé exports is 3.7 euro per bottle versus 0.7 euro per bottle for Spanish Rosé wine exports.
Spain’s Value/Volume Dilemma
I don’t see that many Spanish Rosé wines on store shelves in my area, so it comes as a bit of a surprise that Spain is the #1 exporting country by volume. The report indicates that Spain accounts for more than 40% of Rosé export volume — an incredible amount — but only 18% of global export value, just behind Italy and well ahead of the US, the #4 exporter. The volume/value difference ranking difference is explained by Spain’s very low average export price.
Sue and I tasted a number of pink wines during a visit to Spain a few years ago and many were terrific. We were shocked when we learned about the prices they were getting for these wines and encouraged them to think big at least in terms of the US market. Americans think that cheap Rosé is swimmingly pool wine, we told them, and they won’t buy it. You’ve got to ask a premium price to get sales. But that’s easier said than done. Not easy to shift a price point once it is established.
Many people turn up their noses at Rosé wine. I don’t like Rosé, they say. What does that mean? It can’t mean the flavor or the quality of the wines because Rosé comes in so many different styles from so many different places made with so many grape varieties. You can’t hate them all. To paraphrase Dr Johnson, anyone who is tired of Rosé is tired of life.
But I suspect that you know what the real problem is. People don’t want to be identified with Rosé because Rosé has an image problem in some circles. And some of the wines deserve that reputation, but others certainly do not.
The image issue isn’t helped by a new product I discovered at the market today, French Pool Toy Rosé Tote. It was on sale for $21.99 per pouch. Convenient for trips to the pool or the beach. Not a bad idea, but not necessarily the best optics in terms of elevating the image of the wines.
“I don’t get no respect.” That was Rodney Dangerfield’s signature line and it applies to Rosé to a certain extent. But that’s changing and Elizabeth Gabay MW is one reason why. She has devoted a good deal of her energies in recent years to helping us understand and appreciate the evolving Rosé world. Her 2018 book Rose: Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution showed that Rosé can be a serious wine and subject to serious study, review, and evaluation.
Now Gabay has released a Buyer’s Guide to the Rosé of Southern France. If her first book was broad survey, the new volume is a deep dive into the heart of French Rosé territory. Significantly, this is not a swimming pool book, but a serious professional guide.
Rosé, you seem to be growing up!