How rosé wine became a summer staple

Rosé, red wine’s not so distant cousin, had a tumultuous relationship with fame, growing in and out of favor since its unparalleled reign in Ancient Greece, where darker hued wines were thought of as vulgar drinks reserved for “brutes” and the “civilized” drank their wine diluted. That perception as we know, changed over time, mainly with the introduction and subsequent rise of Bordeaux, which became the drink of choice for monarchs in the 16th century while rosé was discarded as subpar, and out of fashion. 

Rosé catapulted back to fame overnight in 1943, when a sweet and sparkling version of it was produced by Portuguese winemakers and distributed to Europe and the Americas. It’s stayed there since, though not without some changes – the sweet taste that led to its renaissance grew unpopular, with consumers gravitating over time to the drier end of the spectrum. 

Despite the ups and down, it’s safe to say that rosé has now secured its spot on the connoisseur’s shelf. It currently makes up 17.1% of wine’s global market share, and has an avid fan base dedicated to its many variations, which range from still, semi-sparkling or sparkling and  include a wide variation in sweetness levels such as the highly dry Provençal rosé and the sweet White Zinfandels.

Methods of making 

Like with all wines, rosé went through some changes with how it was made, with some methods becoming more obsolete over time and others gaining prominence. Importantly though, each method gave insight into how old the wine might be, with some historians asserting it might’ve been the oldest form of wine to exist, predating red and wine wines by as much as 2000 years.

The most popular method to make modern rose is through skin contact, where black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period of time, typically 2-24 hours. Though the name implies contact, the goal of the process is to limit the amount of time the must (the mushy inside of the grape) is exposed to the skin of the grape, because the longer there’s contact, the more intense the color of the wine. The must then ferments without the skin which leads to a lighter hue of red, characteristic of rosés. Because of the relative simplicity in the approach, historians believe this might  be the oldest method of winemaking. 

In France, rosé can also be made as a byproduct of red wine. The Saignée method (from the French word meaning bleeding) involves a winemaker removing the pink juice of the must in the earlier stages, which they can later ferment to produce rosé. Meanwhile, the red wine remaining in the vats turns out darker than usual, since the remaining must ends up more concentrated by volume.

The last method to make rosé, called blending, is somewhat controversial and has grown considerably less popular overtime. In what may be the most straightforward approach, it involves adding a little bit of red wine to a vat of white wine to attain a blush colored mix. The final product is usually made up of about 5% of red wine while the rest is pure white wine. In France, the blending method is now illegal everywhere except in the Champagne region, because many producers believe the use of multiple types of wine is wasteful. It’s also heavily discouraged in other parts of the world, where winemakers have rallied against the labor intensive methodology, especially when alternative methods exist.

Rosé wine today

After enjoying an unrivaled reign as everyone’s preferred drink in the ancient Roman and Greek times, rosé experienced a fall from grace after the Middle Ages. The opinion that it lacked in quality compared to its red and wine counterparts followed it into the 20th century and its production during those years fell significantly. 

That all changed during World War II, when a pair of winemakers in Portugal separately produced sweet and sparkling rosé wines. They distributed these bottles, named Lancers and Mateus, to both the European and American markets and enjoyed wild success, which ushered in a new era of rosé production. Almost immediately, more winemakers rushed to experiment with the new product, tampering with its acidity, sweetness and color to cater to the expanding market.

Today rosé is made from a wide variety of grapes and can be found around the globe, with France leading global consumption at 30% as of 2019. Meanwhile Spain was the biggest exporter in the same year, supplying  41% of the global share.

North America is also a fan of rosé. In 2021, it was a leading importer by value, buying up about $551 million worth, or nearly one fourth of the global market share.

The preferred taste for rosé has moved away from sweet wines that led to its revival, with most consumers gravitating toward the drier tastes, especially in Europe and North America. But with a market valuation at $3 billion and expectations for the rose market to continue to grow, it’s safe to say there’s one bottle to suit every taste bud, if not now then in the very near future.

Yieldstreet and Dan’s Taste

Yieldstreet is proud to partner with Dan’s Taste! This year Dan’s Taste signature event will feature rosé wines from the best wineries in North and South Fork, as well as other regions of the world.  The Muses Southampton will be the beautiful indoor-outdoor setting for the special occasion. At the event, guests will also be treated to bites from the region’s top chefs, meant to be paired with over a dozen local and international rosé wines. Toast to your Hamptons summer season in style as we raise many a rosy-hued glasses to the official libation of summer!

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