The rise of rosé

PUBLISHED: 18:42 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:09 20 February 2013

Edward Symonds

Edward Symonds

As the summer sun continues to beat down on us, I feel it would be appropriate to cover an area of wine that has seen the largest growth in the UK over the past few years - rosé.

As the summer sun continues to beat down on us, I feel it would be appropriate to cover an area of wine that has seen the largest growth in the UK over the past few years - ros. A category of wine often ridiculed, it is now firmly in the country's heart, as consumption has increased by a staggering amount in recent years. In fact sales of rose in the UK grew by 38 per cent during 2008 alone and it now gone on to account for nearly 10 per cent of the total wine category.

The question is: what has caused this meteoric rise in sales in what can only be called difficult trading conditions in the drinks trade?

Well the most obvious reason is the attractive nature of the wine's colour itself and the fact that it has more fruit flavours than white wines. Ros wines are also extremely versatile with different foods and this can make them a great choice for a group of diners eating different foods. Thus the formula is simple, attractive, fruity wine that is very versatile with food.

The other major factor is another obvious one - the simple fact that there are some ros wines especially the Californian Zinfandels and Blush that are very delicately coloured ros, not particularly high in alcohol and have a distinctly sweetish palate. These were some of the leading styles of ros that broke into the UK market several years ago, so there is still a widely held public conception that all ros wines are sweet.

This could not be further from the truth. In fact most wines sold in the UK today from old world producers are often the off dry variety and are certainly not sweet. They will tend to be deeper darker ros and are sometimes better to match with foods. A good example of this is the Spanish Faustino Rioja Rosado. Made from 20 year old Tempranillo vines it helps to produce a lovely cherry red colour. You could also try an excellent example from the south of France - Crooked Vine Shiraz Ros - which is a full pink colour.

However as soon as you go to new world wine and especially Californian you will tend to get sweeter examples with classic sellers in the UK market from Gallo and Fetzer - popular brands tend to be White Zinfandels and White Grenache - these are more medium sweet styles but are packed full of fruit flavours. Hugely popular with the ladies these brands now have a huge presence in the UK market today.

This popularity has seen a marked change in our trade. For example only three years ago in Saxtys we only had one rose on our wine list which hardly sold. Now we have four styles of rose on our wine list, (the favourite of the Saxtys' girls is the Sartori Pinot Grigio Blush). On our champagne list we have seven styles of ros including Cristal Ros at £395 a bottle. Yes, ros has come a long way in only a short time. I think the category will only get better as more choice becomes available as producers start to alter their ranges to suit the market.

Edward Symonds is a member of Herefordshire's Symonds Cider family and runs Saxtys bar, grill and club in Widemarsh Street, Hereford.

Saxtys of Hereford is holding a Wine and BBQ night on Wednesday, August 26, 8pm. Tickets are 20 and include 10 different wines, champagnes and barbecue. Tel: 01432 357872 or www.saxtys.co.uk for further details.

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