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It's time to take rosé seriously

March 17, 2022

The pink stuff. Red lolly water. Blush. Whatever you call it, rosé’s history has seen it categorised as an inconsequential wine. Something frivolous, often sweet, and typically commercial – a wine that is made to be drunk in large glasses, with packaging and colour more important than anything else.

Yet for venues, rosé should be acknowledged for what it is – an opportunity to service customers, enhance profitability and improve list diversity, no matter what the season.

From a growth perspective, it’s impossible to ignore the rosé phenomenon. Globally, sales are up over 30% since 2000, while here in Australia, rosé has been the fastest-growing category for the last five years.

Notably, it is not old-school, sweeter, darker-coloured styles that are driving popularity either. Instead, the Provence-inspired, lighter and fresher rosé mode is now the number one trend in terms of wine style in Australia, accounting for 86 per cent of the category, with a growth rate of 22% (IRI MAT Jan 2021 figures).

What does all this mean for venues? If your rosé selection is not well chosen, you’re behind the market.

Helpfully, writer and restaurant consultant Anne Krebiehl MW offers up a few hints in this comprehensive article for UK’s The Buyer magazine for where to start.

In particular, there are a few choice points that Anne raises that are worth highlighting and exploring further.

Colour is king

Rosé is the only wine style where customers will active identity with colour.

Given the current predilection for lighter/fresher/pale styles, your choices should focus on wines that match the market. Even the stalwart Mateus is lighter in hue than it was a decade ago, and in modern terms, pale colours are at the forefront.

Choose youth

Outside of a smattering of icons (and the finest sparkling), rosé is meant to be consumed when fresh and youthful. Aged and tiring wines might be great for margin but give a poor customer experience.

Ultimately, most non-sparkling rosé should be drunk within the first 18 months from bottling (and ideally the first year). Some barrel-aged styles might differ from this, but treat the 18 months rule as a broad guide for your purchasing decisions.

Pinot Grigio & Prosecco rosé = A double dip

For by-the-glass volume pours, why not piggyback off the popularity of other wine styles? Both Prosecco and Pinot Grigio are enjoying unprecedented attention, and combine this with rosé, and you have a cross-category mashup!

Given the recent release of the first Italian Prosecco rosé and the quality of ramato-style skin contact wines, this is ripe for by-the-glass opportunities, plus the fast-moving nature of such popular styles can help drive profitability through increased volumes.

The IWSR drinks analytics organisation predicted that sparkling wine, and Prosecco in particular, will enjoy strong growth this year as ‘the category has steadily moved away from its one-dimensional image as a special celebratory drink to align with more regular occasions, such as the aperitivo hour’.

As the report notes, this year will also see a ‘booming rosé category (which) works across a number of social situations’, with these ‘lighter style wines attracting new consumers with their accessibility and versatility’.

More choice is more choice

Finally, if there is an overriding takeaway for improving your rosé offering, it is simply about offering more choice.

Gone are the days when a single token rosé is all that is needed. Given the popularity and the high potential for premium upsells, a selection of rosé can give breadth and add profitability to even small lists, especially given the rampant popularity of imported options. A sprinkling of Bandol and a bargain from Navarra is a simple and logical add-on that anyone should consider (especially coming into the warmer months).