Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rosé? Why compromise?

I am back online (well I never left totally, this is an online addiction after all, but it has been hard to concentrate on projects).

I've got a few irons in the fire, but I thought I would make a quick comment on an interesting headline I read yesterday:

Rosé passes white wine as France's favourite from The Telegraph

Wow! That is a LOT of rosé wine. I have not seen the underlying data to prove to myself that the French really are buying more rosé wine than white (this is the land of wonderful Chardonnay from Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc & Chenin Blanc from the Loire and all sorts of wonderful and exotic Rousanne, Marsanne, Viognier and more from the Rhone).

Surely these are not being displaced by rosé?

Well, of course, there is the issue is of price & availability. The white wines I mention are the ones all wine lovers know, but how often do we drink them? We can all list them as "great wines", but in practice we drink more lowly wines on a daily basis, and the French are no different. So instead, we look for interesting, new and 'trendy' wines, and the rosé trend is spreading around the world.

Even so, that is a lot of pink wine. In the UK, the last figures I saw had rosé sales still below 10% of all wine sales, so even with a big increase since then, they'd struggle to compete with white wine.

Another interesting comparison would be to see what types of rosé wines they are drinking. The much touted growth in UK sales are heavily biased towards the fruitier "blush" wines from California (White Zinfandel and White Grenache) whilst I imagine that even the 'new' young consumers in France, those who are ditching their parents' conventions, would still blush to be seen drinking these wines.

But I must admit that the comment that really annoyed me, of all of this, was Evan Davis on the Today programme (where I first heard the news). He said:

"Sometimes, when you can't decide between red & white, rosé seems the perfect compromise"

Compromise? What a shame to dismiss wines like that. Unfortunately, this is from one of the most educated men in the country working on one of the most influential programmes. OK, so it was a throw-away comment, but it shows that the Wine Conversation still has a long way to go to displace entrenched views.


Andrew said...

is compromise the wrong word? I found myself in Waitrose the other day and couldn't decide on a red or a white to go with that nights food. I reached a compromise by picking a rose...

Robert McIntosh said...

well, I object to it because it presumes that rose is not a category or wine in its own right, and is merely a way of avoiding a decision between the two 'real' categories.

If you actively choose a rose, because that is what will likely be what you want to drink (as I regularly do) then great! But it isn't just a poor imitation of the other two.

That is what I object to in terms of "compromise".

Was it any good?

The Tasting Note said...

I can count the number of roses I like on one hand! As a category of wine, they really aren't my cup of tea, but the fact is that they are a category on their own.

Also, in more drunken moments, I've mixed a red and a white together and produced something that I preferred to many a rose, but I agree with you Robert that the comment as a whole was a little bit thoughtless and it will be interpreted that rose is a half way house between red and white when it really isn't.

But I don't think compromise is the wrong word. If I'm looking at a row of shelves and can't decide between red and white, I compromise. And buy both!

Andrew said...

BUY BOTH! Now why didn't I think of that?

Robert McIntosh said...

yeah! my kind of compromise too