Paul Chevalier, the global marketing director and vice president at Château d’Esclans North America, was working at Shaw-Ross International Importers when Sacha Lichine’s just-launched Whispering Angel rosé joined the company’s portfolio in 2006.
Lichine’s goal, Chevalier recalls, was to capture the French Riviera, to “bring a little of that Mediterranean rosé lifestyle to places like Nantucket, the Hamptons, and Miami. Hence the beginning of the rosé revolution in America. And trust me, there was very little rosé consumption happening in the U.S. 15 years ago.”
Fueled by breakout brands like Whispering Angel, rosé depicts an unapologetically carefree demeanor. Easy to drink and alluringly pink, for consumers, it has come to embody vitality and possibility. Although taglines like “rosé all day” continue to seep into pop culture, the category is also taking a more premium, expansive turn. Chevalier, for one, sees rising interest in cuvées like Rock Angel among “a generation of Whispering Angel consumers who are looking for more.”
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Kashy Khaledi founded Ashes & Diamonds Winery in Napa in 2014, when “the rosé fad was just a few seconds shy of ‘brosé’ status,” he explains, “so we were never deliberately looking to make one. That is, until we came across a scraggly old Cabernet Franc vineyard in Carneros that barely produced enough sugar to make red wine. Every vineyard has a voice and this one was destined to make a Chinon-esque rosé.” Now he’s just celebrated his seventh vintage.
Provence is the region most closely associated with rosé, and the location’s appeal has yet to wane. Jennifer Carruthers, the San Diego-based wine concierge behind JC Select Wines, says Provence is what her clients clamor for. They are also singling out bottles “from regions like Bandol or Aix en Provence, sometimes also specifying a preference for Grenache-based [ones],” she says.
Widening Rosé Demand
The familiarity of Provence is just a starting point. “Each year drinkers seem to branch out a little further from the usual. Txakoli rosé, which was a nerdy thing just a few years ago, is now something people are open-minded about,” says Noah Small, the beverage director at Mischa and Empellon in New York City, who seeks out rosé from southern France—specifically the Camargue region—Spain, Italy, and Mexico.
Andrea Morris, the beverage director at Essential by Christophe in New York City, likes to offer a range of taste profiles, too. “Having only light, crisp, mineral-driven styles on the menu would be the same as only having Cabernet-based blends for the red wine selections,” she says.
Rosé sales undoubtedly spike in spring and summer, but Carruthers is seeing demand for it year-round, because “word of just how versatile it is, is finally getting out,” she notes. Morris weaves rosé into winter dinner pairings “to remind guests that there’s no wrong weather to enjoy a delicious wine,” and even “during the dark and dismal days, rosé pairs so well with our food that it’s always an easy sell,” says Small. As Kathy Sidell, the owner of Saltie Girl restaurants in Los Angeles, Boston, and London, sums it up, “The idea that rosé should be off the wine list after August is a thing of the past.”
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Alia Akkam is a writer who covers food, drink, travel, and design. She is the author of Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktails from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels (Hardie Grant) and her work has appeared in Architecturaldigest.com, Dwell.com, Penta, Vogue.com, BBC, Playboy, and Taste, among others, and she is a former editor at Edible Queens, Hospitality Design, and Beverage Media. A native New Yorker, Alia now calls Budapest home. Follow Alia @behdria.