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The curious rise of rosť

By Finlo Rohrer
BBC News Magazine

Rose wine
Rosť is rising everywhere but most dramatically in the UK

Once it was looked down on by wine drinkers but rosé's inclusion in the basket of goods used to work out inflation shows the power of its inexorable rise.

Rosé is in the basket. Wine in cardboard boxes is out of the basket.

To be included in the Office for National Statistics' basket of goods, used to calculate the main measures of UK inflation, suggests a certain degree of significance.

And the stats appear to bear their view out.

According to figures from VINEXPO/IWSR, UK consumption of rosé went up 64% between 2003 and 2007. It is forecast to rise by 48% between 2008 and 2012.

One of the UK's biggest sellers of wine, Tesco, said its sales of rosé went up 23% in the year to the end of February.

There still are lots of rosés that are on the spectrum of nastiness
Adam Lechmere
Decanter.com

And while rosé sales are rising in the wider world, in the UK they are spilling over. Consumption across the globe went up a mere 13% between 2003 and 2007.

So why the sudden British love for wine that is pinkish in hue?

It could be all about the weather, says wine critic Malcolm Gluck, author of The Great Wine Swindle.

The summer of 2003 was record-breakingly hot in the UK, and a run of milder winters in the years that followed may have changed drinking habits.

More barbecues

"Rosé has stopped being something you only drink in the hot months," says Mr Gluck.

"There are more barbecues, people like eating outside and rosé fills the gap."

There's also a case that people eating spicy food either Indian or Chinese or Thai, may prefer something that is the wine equivalent of a light lager, Mr Gluck notes.

Couple drinking rosť
They're happy because they drink rosť

"It goes with a lot of ethnic foods people like to eat."

Adam Lechmere, editor of Decanter.com, concurred with the view that the summer of 2003 provided a major boost for rosé .

"The summer of 2003 sent the rosé market through the roof. It was a long hot summer. People suddenly cottoned on to it as a very nice summer drink. It has risen more or less consistently since then."

Of course, rosé has had to overcome an image problem. A whole category of wine was associated with slightly unfashionable brands like Mateus Rosé . It was seen as a bit 1970s and unsophisticated.

But that image has now been dispelled, says Mr Lechmere, whose magazine conducted a survey in 2007 on the issue of rosé.

"We asked 'can rosé ever be a serious wine?' and 90% said yes so stop being so snobbish."

Of course there are plenty of wine buffs who would take a non-rosé tinted view of the cough mixture-esque blush zinfandels that clutter the shelves of their local convenience store.

"There still are lots of rosés that are on the spectrum of nastiness, there are also a lot of very, very nice full bodied delicious serious rosés from all over the world," says Mr Lechmere.

And it can be argued that the wine industry has succeeded in bringing non-wine drinkers in. You can even find people in bars drinking rosé with ice.

"People feel there's something non-confrontational about rosé, you are not drinking wine you are drinking something else", says Mr Gluck.

"It may be that rose is seen more as a cocktail."


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