For wine lovers, it’s practically synonymous with rosé.
This year, as the wine industry and consumers alike emerge from the dark depths of COVID, “rosé season” has taken on an even more welcome and refreshing character than usual. Each glass of rosé I’ve enjoyed within the past few weeks has felt like a gentle step forward in the right direction. (Extrapolating that wine experience to a lighter mood and perspective, both physically and psychologically, is not such a big leap.)
Why rosé? And why now? There are plenty of easy answers and low-hanging-fruit responses to those questions. But it’s also worth teasing out the nuances of a few of them as a way to jump start the quenching of our collective thirst, with the long days of summer just around the corner.
Here are four best reasons for rosé right now.
The Social Nature of Rosé
Rosé and sparkling wine share some things in common, one of which is their social nature.
Think about it. When was the last time you opened a bottle of sparkling wine just for yourself? Similarly, when was the last time you drank rosé alone? Maybe we did, a little more than usual, during the unusual circumstances of COVID. Fair enough. But now that meeting up with friends is becoming safer and more acceptable again, we can also start to embrace rosé’s more social nature with open arms.
The Market Impact of COVID
The economic news feeds of the wine industry have been populated this past year by the impact of COVID on consumer purchasing habits, most notably sparkling wine and the loss of holiday momentum or seasonal desire to celebrate that’s associated with Champagne and its counterparts. The most recent numbers from the Champagne Bureau USA, for example, indicate that Champagne shipments to the US in the past year dropped by almost 20 percent compared to 2019.
The timing of the “roll out” of our post-COVID return to normal, however, bodes well for rosé, at least in some locations in the northern hemisphere as the weather warms up, restaurants begin to open again to more capacity, and group gatherings (along with cool glasses of chilled rosé in guests’ hands) become more socially acceptable.
The Quirks of COVID Time
Time has been playing COVID tricks on us. Holidays (especially without gatherings of family and friends) lost at least some of their seasonal significance during the pandemic. Weekdays and weekends blurred together. The clothes and even the footwear – that during regular times marked the progression of the day’s activities from morning to night – lost some of their ability differentiate “work” from “home.”
The pending return to some normalcy of chronological routine will also help with the eventual re-alignment of work, family and social schedules. Which means better tuning in to seasonal fluctuations outside, and more attentive wine choices too.
The Diversity, and the Respect, of Rosé
Not so long ago, rosé fought for respect among consumers and critics alike. It used to be that you wouldn’t undertake a “study” of rosé the way you would undertake a serious consideration of pinot noir, for example, or chardonnay. Those days, happily, are in the rear view mirror as a more serious (and even rigorous) consideration of rosé has emerged, both in terms of winemaker attention and consumer appreciation.
As a toast to rosé season, why not consider tasting through a selection and talking about the differences with friends? Line up a few bottles of rosé from, say, northern Italy next to a few from southern Italy, and notice obvious differences, like intensity or depth of color. Then do a little research about the grapes that are responsible for the fluctuations, beginning with color then moving onto aromas and flavor profiles as well.
It’s a fun way to step into the season, that is as educational as it is entertaining.