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On rosé, trends and “darlings”



I don’t have anything against rosé. I like a good rosé, as long as it’s dry. One of the best tastings I ever went to was at the old Vertigo restaurant, in San Francisco, which claimed to have the nation’s biggest rosé wine list. The bartender set me up at the bar one afternoon before the place opened, and I happily explored the wonderful world of [mostly French] rosés.

What I do have something against is this meme, which seems to have popped up a year or two ago, that rosé is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I mean, you can’t pick up a Sunset Magazine or a wine magazine or an airplane magazine without an article trumpeting rosé as the chic new black. The latest is the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sunday article, “Planet Pink: How rosé became the wine lover’s darling—and a social media sensation.”

Let’s get this straight right away: rosé is not “the wine lover’s darling.” There’s no such thing as “the wine lover’s darling.” It’s not orange wine, and it’s not Prosecco, and it’s not anything else that has hitherto been acclaimed to be the next big thing. Rosé is simply a nice little wine that can be delicious with charcuterie, but “darling”? I think not.

What is it about the wine press that they always have to be discovering some trend? I suppose it’s inherent in the nature of media publications. If you write for a newspaper, then you have to dig up some “news.” If there isn’t any, then you take some current thing and inflate it so that it can plausibly be called “news.” This happens in politics all the time: it’s the “shiny new thing” phenomenon, also known as “shiny object syndrome,” where a new idea captures your imagination and attention in such a way that you get distracted from the bigger picture and go off in tangents instead of remaining focused on the goal.” In my opinion, Republicans do this all the time: they dangle Obama’s birthplace, or some other nonsense, in front of the electorate, hoping to divert our attention from real issues, such as jobs, healthcare, the cost of college education, climate change and the vast disparity of incomes in America—issues for which that political party has no answers.

Wine writers are not quite as cynical or calculating as political operatives, but “shiny object syndrome” is something they indulge in due to the pressures of their jobs. One couldn’t really publish a wine section in a major daily newspaper and say, “There’s nothing particularly new in the wine industry today,” could one? So you come up with yet another “darling.”

Now, what’s this about “a new social media sensation”? Same old same old. If you want to bolster your case that something really is a darling, then you go to the Google machine and find as many glowing references to it online as you can. That bolsters your case: not only is it your claim that something is a darling, but all those wise people out there on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are saying the same thing! Therefore it must be true: for social media doesn’t lie, exaggerate or distort, it is a magical expression of authentic thinking in the world, and thus the perfect tool for trendspotting.

Well, I am being sarcastic, of course. Social media is filled with the same ridiculousness as life itself. The rule of social media is fifteen minutes of fame, after which the phenomenon in question sinks back into obscurity, to be replaced by the next “darling.”

Besides, what if rosé really is the new “darling”? Does that make you want to run out and find a rosé? Maybe you’re the type of person who feels that you don’t want to miss out on something that everybody else knows about. If that’s the case, it’s not rosé you’re looking for. But, as I said, rosé can be delightful, especially during the kind of heat wave that California is now experiencing. It’s forecast to be one of the longest heat waves we’ve had in years—started yesterday and will continue at least through this week. This is not what growers need at this time: it will profoundly speed up the ripening process on those grapes not already picked, leading to a possible crush rush; there will be cases of sunburnt fruit; and if you can’t find pickers to harvest your grapes in time, you’re going to have sugar spikes to deal with.

I am off on another road trip for Jackson Family Wines, down to Newport Beach for a fancy dinner. This time, alas, I must leave Gus behind, but he’s in good hands with my family. Have a great day. Grab yourself a nice rosé, chill it, and savor it later this afternoon by your pool, if you have a pool. If you don’t, savor it anyway.



  1. Steve,

    I guess I am not sure that there isn’t some “news” there with regards to the rise of rose’. When Reuters reports that exports of dry, pink wines from France rose by 29 percent, it does seem like its more than the “bright, shiny object” syndrome.

    Adam Lee
    Siduri Wines

  2. Jonathan King says:

    Has anyone tried to make a rose-type wine out of Zinfandel? Just a thought…

  3. Yes, Jonathan. It is called White Zinfandel. And it has also been called Zinfandel Gris. I had a rose’ the other day that was made out of Chardonnay with a dollop or two of Pinot Noir.

  4. Jonathan King says:

    Only because my question (above) will live online forever will I confess that I was just funnin’ when I asked about a zinfandel rose. Who could ever forget that longlasting scourge? I should have added a smiley or something to spare Charlie O. the trouble of taking me seriously … sorry, Charlie.

  5. I enjoyed this piece. My wife and I have been drinking rose (mostly French, but some Spanish and Italian) for at least 25 years, so I had to laugh when I saw several recent articles about how Americans have started to discover rose. Jay McInerney is not an author I would normally quote, but I do love this line from one of his books: “Anyone who starts analyzing the taste of a rosé in public should be thrown into the pool immediately.”
    Now, I’m off to shortly open a rose, since we’re having Maine’s version of a heat wave.

  6. Bill Stephenson says:

    Great post except for the jab at Republicans. Are you trying to politicize your blog, too? (as if we need more of that)

  7. Usually I buy a couple of mixed cases of white wine to start the summer off. This year I bought rosé instead. I’ll do the same next year.

  8. “In my opinion, Republicans do this all the time: they dangle Obama’s birthplace, or some other nonsense, in front of the electorate, hoping to divert our attention from real issues . . .”

    Hello sweetheart, get me rewite:

    [ Link:×205.jpeg ]

    In my opinion, [some] Republicans do this all the time . . .

    Broad brush strokes unfairly denigrate the innocent.

  9. “I had a rosé the other day that was made out of Chardonnay with a dollop or two of Pinot Noir.”

    Charlie: or was it a skin-contact “orange wine”?

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