It seems everywhere you look these days, the presence of pink wine is continually growing. Even during a global pandemic that has continued into 2021, sales of rosé have risen and the kosher market will see a greater quantity of rosé in Spring 2021.
And for good reason: Rosé is generally affordable, easy to drink, and universally considered fruity and fun. Virtually every winemaker who makes kosher wine now produces a rosé, hailing from all parts of the world.
How do you like your rosé? Pale, restrained and Provençal? Fruit-forward and with more heft? Sweet? Bursting with bubbles? Rest assured, there’s a rosé being produced with you in mind.
Even with the 25% U.S. tariff on French wines taking effect in 2019, French wine imports continue to rise to the United States. Its driver? Rosé. While millennials have not bought wine apace with older generations, they most certainly are responsible for the great boom in kosher rosé sales.
Just a decade ago, many consumers—non-kosher and kosher alike—were unfamiliar with rosé, but with booming growth in all areas of kosher food and wine, it is only natural to expect a parallel phenomenon to occur with the rise of rosé.
“The most noticeable trend of the past five years has been the ascent of rosé wines,” said Gabriel Geller, director of public relations and wine education for Royal Wine Corp. “The constant growth, both in sales and offerings, has shown that it is not a passing trend but a category that is here to stay.”
Geller explained that this trend is good for the market, considering that “the context in which rosé wines are often consumed, typically on a weeknight, [as part of] a simple dinner or as a refreshing and relaxing drink on Shabbat makes it the type of wine that helps to promote wine as a culture in our community, away from the sole obligations of kiddush and other religious ceremonies.”
The kosher wine world will see well over 100 rosé offerings in 2021. “I don’t think we have reached a ceiling yet,” said Geller. The rosé category will not just be composed of entry-level easy-drinkers, but will include several higher-priced French offerings from Château Roubine, which produced three Cotes du Provence rosés last year, but will offer three or four more rosés this year.
A particularly well-received rosé last year was that of Cantina Giuliano, one of only three all-kosher wineries in Europe, located in the heart of Tuscany and imported to the United States by Allied Importers, Inc. Produced from 100% Sangiovese, the rosé was a huge hit, selling out quickly.
“The right people, thank God, found my rosé good very early in the season,” owner and winemaker Eli Gauthier told me, “and everybody just kind of followed up on those opinions.”
Gauthier produced 4,000 bottles of rosé last year, and plans to increase to 5,000 bottles this year. “Being a small winery, there’s a bit of mazal to things,” said Gauthier. “I don’t control everything perfectly every day, and wines have a way to just take a direction of their own sometimes.”
As the growing rosé trend intersects with the equally prevalent trend towards all things kosher, wineries everywhere seek a toehold into this world. Importer and distributor The River Wine, managed by Ami and Larissa Nahari, produces the Contessa Annalisa Collection, which sources wines from Italian winemakers. I asked winemaker Cristian Tombacco, producer of the 2020 Contessa Annalisa rosé, what he aims for when producing rosé for the American kosher market.
“We understand the American palate is a bit different than the Italian,” said Tombacco. “The fruit needs to be more defined, with not as much acidity or tannin, with a smooth and enjoyable flavor. Specifically to this 2020 rosé, I think most people would enjoy it, and not just kosher drinkers.” What Tombacco said next shouldn’t surprise wine aficionados: “I can tell you a secret. We used the leftover rosé to sell in the non-kosher market, and we received rave reviews. I am even a big consumer of the kosher rosé,” he said with a smile.
The warming season will not only bring us a pink tidal wave, but will carry with it new and exciting features such as J. Folk’s rosé in a can (previewed below!) and all manners of pink bubbles including (yes!) rosé Prosécco.
Considering my deadline on this piece fell just just prior to the majority of the rosé releases for 2021, it should be noted that winners for me last year included the aforementioned Cantina Guiliano from Italy; Israeli offerings Carmel Appellation and Netofa LaTour; France’s Château Greysac and Château Roubine La Vie en Rose; and California’s Shirah, Twin Suns and Herzog Lineage.
However, we were able to taste a few of the early entries to the market. So let’s preview one each from Italy, Israel and South Africa.
2020 Contessa Annalisa Veneto IGT Rosé
When I spoke to the winemaker, Cristian Tombacco, I was intrigued to learn this rosé was made from pinot grigio. In the glass, melon to coral pink color and clear. On the nose, fresh red fruits, strawberry and raspberry, lemon, grapefruit. On the palate, bright red ripe strawberry, stone fruits, with plenty of acid to keep it interesting. Long finish. Quite refreshing and enjoyable.
2020 Flam Rosé
Well, this is a very enjoyable early entry into the 2020 “War of the Rosés.” The 2020 Flam is 71% syrah; 20% cab franc; 9% cab; and is a huge step back to excellent rosé for Flam. In the glass, pale pink and clear. On the nose, gobs of minerality, bright red fruit and wafts of salinity and ocean breeze. The palate shows pink grapefruit, tart red fruit, loads of salinity and minerality. There is a long, tart acidic finish. A winner for me.
2020 J. Folk Rosé
(in a can!)
Certainly a cool and welcome addition to the kosher wine world is this portable, adorable can of rosé, hailing from South Africa. Bright pink and clear in the glass, with ripe raspberries and citrus notes on the nose. The palate shows ripe red fruits with enough acid to make it enjoyable.
By Dr. Kenneth Friedman