Brian Borlick, in a nifty pink shirt and slacks, was in constant motion grabbing bottles, pouring pink wine, and talking deals.
Borlick is Premium Division Manager for Republic National Distributing Company (RNDC) in Indianapolis. He is also known within the Indy wine world as RNDC’s Rose’ guy.
Indiana Rose’ sales climbed 99 percent as of February, ending a 12-month period. Staggering! National sales increased 64 percent over the same time period, according to Nielson statistics.
“I remember we had a tasting 13 years ago,” Borlick said at a recent event for industry insiders and buyers. “We had 18 wines and about four people showed up. The last two years we’ve had over 100 wines and more than 100 people came to taste.”
Borlick noted that supermarkets, small restaurants, and maybe even Hoosiers were slow to the pink wine love affair – but not anymore. “Even restaurants in small towns are pouring by the glass,” he said. “All supermarkets have at least a few Rose’ wines.”
Gooley, manager and wine buyer for three Indianapolis retail stores under the Vine & Table banner, believes acceptance of dry pink wine is a generational issue. “I think it’s the baby boomers getting over the fact they’re not sweet,” he said. “We grew up with white zinfandel and still a lot of people have the idea if it’s pink it’s sweet. I also think we have a millennial generation willing to trust us and when they come in and we say it’s dry they buy it. I think we’ve done a good job of convincing people that dry rose is the red wine drinkers’ white wine.”
Borlick was like most Americans a little more than a decade ago. He thought of Rose’ as a coyingly sweet pink wine. “Then I went to France for the first time in 1999 and was force fed some Rose,” he joked. “I was planning not to like it but loved it. The French drink it for lunch and dinner.”
Most alcohol distributors certainly have Rose’ in their portfolio but RNDC is one of, if not, the biggest in Indiana. The dry pink now appeals to consumers of all ages but is particularly driven by the younger millennial generation.
“People used to go into wine shops and see 10 roses now they see 50 – people see that and think they must get in on this,” Gooley said. “Most rose’ sells between $10-$25. That fits with the rest of the retail market that’s had a great increase in that price range.”
Wine wholesalers and retailers do worry about a pink over saturation. “Rose’ sales are going to continue to grow but maybe not the same as past years,” Borlick said. “Now, every winery and an uncle are making a Rose’.”
Gooley agreed with his distributor’s comments. “We’re now in a position where consumers are going to get some substandard roses and poor quality. They’re are going to find things in lower price points that are not going to last a year or year and a half in the bottle and then are going to think I don’t like Rose. But they spent $5 on it.”
The most popular Rose’ is the lighter color and lighter palate of Provence Rose, the redder and more palate dominating Rose’s of France’s Rhone Valley and Tavel retain traditional popularity
Many credit the growth to Rose’ rise to powerhouse labels like Chateau d’Esclans’ Whispering Angel, the world’s most popular Rose, which has released 3.2 million bottle vintages in recent years. One of the other celebrity-driven but nice drinking Rose’ wines is Chateau Miraval. Insiders know actors Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie invested $67 million in the estate in 2008. Both wines sell for $19.99 to mid-$20 range.
Too often specific wines can be hard to find. But most reputable wine shops or even liquor stores have a wide selection. Look for Rose’ of Pinot Noir from the West Coast, Oregon or California, and pink from Provence or Southern France.