IT’S a pink tsunami. A flood of fuchsia. A rush of blush.
Australia’s bars, restaurants and liquor retailers are looking at the coming summer through rosé-coloured glasses as the biggest trend in drinking habits in years has taken the country’s thirst by storm.
Everyone is turning pink. We’re drinking rosé faster than ever, with the category growing nationwide more than 65 per cent in value and more than 53 per cent in volume in the past year, according to liquor industry sales data.
The rising tide of rosé has now hit mainstream wine consumers, and the growth is coming from all genders, ages, and social demographics, retailers and wine producers say.
Large numbers of women who’ve been drinking New Zealand sauvignon blanc as their tipple of choice for the past decade are moving to rosé, as are many men who have recently transitioned from traditional full-bodied reds through to lighter varietal styles such as pinot noir, according to Dan Murphy’s wine panel and range development expert Peter Nixon.
“I don’t see it as trading away from pinot or sauvignon blanc, but more that they’re increasing their wine repertoire,” Nixon says.
“It’s a healthy sign that we are now seeking out different wine styles for different occasions and actually thinking about food matching,” he says.
The surge in rosé’s popularity has come about in tandem with a rise in the number of rosés that are pale pink rather than crimson, dry in style rather than sweet, and have a refreshing finish rather than cloying.
The new rosés suit our Australian lifestyle, Jacob’s Creek rosé and sparkling wine maker Trina Smith says.
“Our climate suits the new rosés, and being more savoury and delicate, they are really food-friendly,” Smith says. “And the fact that the rosé trend has spread across all demographics tells how versatile the wine is.”
The Jacob’s Creek Le Petit rosé, which Smith makes, is Australia’s biggest-selling domestic rosé, tapping into the French vibe of the popular new styling of Australian rosé and crafting its pale pink tones and savoury notes from three varieties that genuinely suit, pinot noir, grenache and mataro.
The trend now also has engulfed hundreds of wine producers, the best of them growing fruit specifically for their rosé releases. The big move is in the rise of the quality of the wines.
“We look for red currant and spicy fruit flavours,” Smith says. “We’re trying to make an elegant, savoury style but leveraging the vibrancy and crunchy freshness of Australian fruit.”
Another exciting change has been the use of a wide range of varieties now growing in Australia, from those Mediterraneans we call “emerging” or alternative to more traditional reds like shiraz cabernet and merlot.
The French tradition has long been with the grenache and mataro varieties at the core of the wines of Provence and neighbouring districts, and we’re seeing a lot of that behind our best examples here.
But the Italians aren’t going unnoticed, with sangiovese, nebbiolo, aglianico, montepulciano and primitivo all doing good work in the field. And the Spanish aren’t to be forgotten as well with tempranillo also showing promise.
This broadening of the rosé varietal spectrum has attracted a more informed drinker to the pink revolution, rosé specialist and Felixir wine importer Felix Riley says.
He’s seen close to a doubling of business in the past year, which he says is largely driven by the expansion of varieties and styles across not only the Australian range but old-world countries as well.
“People are suddenly getting their heads around that rosé is more than just a one-trick pony,” Riley says.
Restaurants have picked up on the trend, too. Just a few years ago most wine lists may have listed just one rosé, but now more and more venues are offering multiple rosés by the glass as well as bottle.
And no longer are they suggesting that it’s a woman-only tipple.
The so-called “brosé” trend, that celebrates men drinking pink, has given social permission for blokes to get on the rosé train.
Riley is your classic example, a bearded, metal music fan who knows his French, Italian and Aussie rosé better than most, and reckons the reason for its widening consumer popularity is due to the quality of the wine itself.
“Rosé has gone from being lurid pink and sweet to actually being a decent drink enjoyed for its dryness, its textural class and its complexity.”
Originally published as Days of wine and rosé
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