There’s no question that rosé wine’s popularity in America has skyrocketed in recent years, as proven by the boom of rosé wineries, countless new brand names and the tens of the thousands of Instagram photos captioned #roséallday. We aren’t complaining (floating in a Palm Springs pool with a glass in hand is pretty much a perfect afternoon!), but wondered what led this pretty pink drink to start trending, and what makes it so special?
Though it’s currently all the rage throughout the U.S., it is Provence — a fertile wine region in the south of France — that has long been considered rosé’s home. More than 60 percent of all wine made in Provence is of the rosé variety, and their wine makers are generally revered as experts in the craft.
ROSÉ S’IL VOUS PLAÎT tee by Daydreamer
Rosé is most distinguishable by the spectrum of blush colors it yields but, contrary to popular assumption, it is not made by blending red and white wine together (or shouldn’t be, as this method is banned by most wine appellation guidelines). Rather, rosé wine achieves its lovely pigment through a process called maceration, wherein the juice from grapes temporarily remains in contact with grape skins and is resultantly stained. The juice and skins soak together for a short period (ranging from a few hours to a few days, but the longer the contact, the more vibrant the rosé’s color and a fuller-bodied, fruitier wine is yielded). Once the liquid begins to take on its desired shade of pink, the skins are removed and the juice is allowed to ferment.
Rosé is typically made from a red grape varietal. The varietals can be used independently or combined in a blend, depending on the tradition of the country in which it is produced. Provence most frequently utilizes blends that include Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvedre and Tibouren varietals, whereas the U.S. favors more Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel. And no matter where it’s made, rosé grapes are intended from the ground up to be farmed and picked with a focus on pithy acidity.
Before its recent rebound, rosé was often misunderstood as poorly made, overly sweet or both. California rosés in particular were often confused with White Zinfindel and stereotyped as being too saccharine, alcoholic and heavy — all the worst qualities of a pink wine. However, with America’s taste for rosé steadily increasing and maturing, California is now one of the many states producing rosé of the highest quality to satisfy even the most discerning palates.
It is believed that Americans with a connection to the Hamptons, the posh Long Island resort area, were introduced to rosé while vacationing in Nice, St. Tropez, Cannes and Provence, where rosé is ubiquitous. Once back in the Hamptons, they sought to reunite with their beloved European beverage and before long, rosé came to represent a lifestyle. As the poolside elite’s refreshing wine of choice, it quickly caught on, and the appeal can be attributed to more than trendiness; rosé is easy to drink, food-friendly and boasts complex flavors and aromas.
Research firm Nielsen shows that while last year’s U.S. retail sales of table wine increased at a modest 1.9% by volume, at the same time imported rosé over $12, as a category, grew by 56.4% volume. With so many new brands popping up, both imported and domestic, there are bottles in every price range and for every taste preference. Further, the newest vintages are freshest, so there’s no need to track down a good year. To top it all off, a glass of rosé averages only 80 calories, so not only can you indulge on sunny days, but you can do so often and without feeling guilty. We’ll cheers to that.
Photography by Katie McGihon for Palm Springs Style; may not be used without express written permission