This is the time of year when importers, distributors and ultimately retailers forecast and commit to their Rosé purchases for the warm months of 2012. We have seen a steady increase in the sales of rosé for as long as I can remember, and we are now at a point where every fine wine shop and restaurant in the country is doing something with this category. The mantra is: Rosé is brought in right after the wine is finished and sold out before it hits 1 year old. Rosé is seemingly held in the same regard as Beaujolais Nouveau, if you don't drink it, it will be dead wine in 2 years. This is absolutely absurd. Rosé lives longer than many similarly priced white wines, and unlike it's white counterparts, actually could use a bit of time to develop. I'm not talking about cellaring these wines, but I certainly would think that a 2 year old Rosé isn't the kiss of death we have come to believe in this industry.
I not sure how we got this way. The demand for early arrival dry pink is so great that many producers have prioritized it's bottling and release before that of many white wines. Who decided that was a good idea? And who decreed that 2 year old rosé is the kiss of death? My theory is it is the mentality of the people taking the risks of buying and selling the wines. If they place some sort of hard and fast parameters and metrics on these items, they are held less accountable for taking risks. Unfortunately, they are setting themselves up for some degree of disaster. Purchasing agents groan when confronted with having to buy in on rosé, and many feel like they get burned every year because it isn't all sold out by August 1. Then they need to discount it, sometimes at a great loss, and then the cycle starts all over again, because the market does demand rosé. Admittedly, rosé has become closely associated with Summertime, and rightfully so. We all know that rosé does quite well year round though especially at Thanksgiving and Easter. It's a breakable cycle if we as a wine community can teach and learn just two thing about rosé: it improves in year 2, and we can and should drink it year round.
Not too many generalizations work in wine. I am pretty confident about this one. I would estimate that 95% of dry rosés out there will peak in the 18 month- 24 month window, 6 months after many have been closed out. I'm not suggesting buying these and sitting on them for 2 years as that's pretty bad business. What to do, and now is a great time to do it as rosé continues to gain popularity, is to educate the wine community, starting with consumers, sommeliers and retailers as to the durability and year round drink-ability of rosé.
Perhaps if we band together, we can help out those poor purchasing agents staring at their rosé offerings with dread right now.