The trend in dry rosé wines always seems to peaking soon -- very soon. This was five years ago.Years ago, my high school French teacher would once in while give us a treat, and allow us to relax from studying grammar and vocabulary long enough to discuss French culture in English. Among other updates and commentaries, she said to us once that it takes about two years or so for French fashions to reach the midwest, but that they inevitably do. They travel first to the east coast, then they jump to California, and then they filter back to us here in our sunny plains and humid forests. (Astonishingly cool plains and forests, as it happens, at least here in my little ecosystem. For the first time ever, I have had to shut windows at night, to keep out the July chill.)
One day, circa 1979, Madame warned us that in a short time, we would all be wearing brightly colored moccasins. She had just visited Paris, and that was what the young women, BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) were wearing on the street.
We all gasped in revulsion. Surely not. Moccasins are brown, why -- they are made of leather, the Indians wore them, they are dignified and natural, they muffled the brave Sioux's footfall as he paced the thick woods silently hunting deer and things. Who would be caught dead wearing such an absurd cultural thievery as colored moccasins? Madame just smiled knowingly.
Needless to say, within a few years, there they were in the stores and on girls' feet. Abruptly, yellow and blue and pink moccasins looked "cute." What happened to change our minds? Nothing, it seems, except that it became clear by some sort of planetary osmosis that of course colored moccasins are French. Q.E.F. (quod erat faciendum, "which was to be done").
These memories have returned because last night, at a Wine 101 presentation, a young woman asked me a question I couldn't quite answer except by saying "it may just be the fashion." It was an answer that explained nothing -- but possibly everything. This young woman had been to Paris two years ago, and had been surprised there to notice the constant serving and drinking of rosé wines in the cafes. Why rosés? She expected Parisians to be drinking, well, something else. Stronger stuff, perhaps.
My humdrum little answer, sometimes it's just a matter of fashion, makes sense to me because dry rosé wines are popular in this country, too. Right on schedule. Professionals first noticed that sales were trending up about two years ago; today the trend continues and this spring, French producers worried about a potential change in European law which could permit rosés to be made in a sort of quick 'n' easy way, no doubt to take advantage of that thirsty market. (The proposed law change was scrapped after protests about dilution of quality.)
Why rosés, why now? A dry rosé is delightful and refreshing, but objectively no more so than a chilled white or even a mix of Beaujolais and water, a blend that Beaujolais producer Didier Mommessin touts as "the most refreshing drink in the world" (quoted in Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, p. 93). I suspect any gaps in that "why now?" logic can often best be filled in, whether we are talking about wine or shoes or lots of other cultural products, with reference to that simple Q.E.F. The French are doing it.
Ready to dip your un-moccasined toe into the sea of dry rosé wines? Here are three to start with, all ranging in price from $5 to $15:
- Frontera Rosé, Concha y Toro, Chile
- Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Miguel Torres, Chile
- Bonterra Rosé, Bonterra Vineyards, Mendocino, California -- blended from sangiovese, zinfandel, and grenache grapes, all organically grown. This one is available only at Whole Foods.