Four independent merchants tell us how rosé sales are doing in their businesses.

Oliver Gauntlett, Eynsham Cellars, Oxfordshire

We do have customers who will buy rosé all through the year but in terms of sales volume it is very seasonal. We sell a lot of rosé when we get a nice spring and a good hot summer.

The paler Provence style is the most popular but we do have a couple of deeper coloured ones that we force upon people! Seriously, it takes a bit of persuasion to get them to try anything with colour. There’s one or two that we really rate but they are definitely a hand-sell. We have a great Spanish one that we’ve been doing for a couple of years, Llumí Rosat Rosé from Celler Alimara. It’s a fabulous wine. It’s a hand-sell but people come back for it.

Rosé is a little bit like Champagne in that it’s still very brand-focused. People come in and want Whispering Angel, they want that logo. They like to take pictures of it for Instagram: the sun shining, the pale rosé. 

We stocked Whispering Angel in the past but I just find that you’re always going to struggle making a margin on it and you’re not going to get any loyalty, as people will just buy it when they’re in Waitrose and probably get it a bit cheaper. 

It’s an easy thing to stock it, but a bit lazy. It’s important to have other options that people can get behind – that’s the key. There’s plenty of stuff out there but you have to get the balance right. I find it still needs to be a good-looking product.

Chris Bailey, Mr & Mrs Fine Wine, Southwell

Summer is definitely the big push for rosé, but we sell it throughout the year. It’s definitely a growing category.

We had a big Mother’s Day display, and that was particularly popular for us. We always have a rosé on the Enomatic and in the summer we’ll have two.

At the moment we’ve got about 12 to 15 rosés on the shelf and that might go up to 24 in the summer.

We have a Portuguese rosé and a Spanish rosé but I would say probably 99 out of 100 rosés we sell are French. We’ve got some Languedoc stuff but most of it is Provence.

The Miraflors that we get from Walker & Wodehouse comes in a frosted bottle with a Vinolok on top, and it’s the bottle that sells it as opposed to the locale. The other couple of Pays d’Oc ones we have to really push because people naturally seem to go for Provence.

We’ve tried with Australian rosé, Sancerre rosé and Rhône rosé but they really don’t move. It’s a real hard slog to try to push anything other than Provence.

It’s that pale style people want. So if you’ve got a Tavel rosé, which is that much deeper pink, people won’t pick it up. Even though it’s dry rosé and it’s perfectly good, people just don’t want to know. We cater to our customers’ tastes, I guess.

Because we’ve got the bar element, I can say that although we definitely have men who will have a glass of rosé, there’s definitely more women who drink it. I can’t give you an accurate figure but probably 85% of those drinking rosé in our bar are women.

Where we struggle with rosé is with Champagne. Crémant rosé will sell, Cava Rosado will sell, but not rosé Champagne. I think that’s primarily down to price. We’ve got Laurent-Perrier rosé on at around £75 and Bollinger rosé is probably not too far off that, maybe £65, so it just becomes very expensive.

Holly Willcocks, Half Cut Market, Islington

We definitely see seasonal swings in terms of sales, so during the colder months we probably reduce rosé to about three or four lines out of 100, and then as it starts to hot up we have about seven or eight different rosés. We normally have two rosés on by the glass as well.

We have our pale-and-dry category, which is a people pleaser and one we know that everyone likes to drink. But I really like to push fuller, bolder styles of rosé as I think it’s also such a fantastic opportunity for wine pairings. As you go up the colour spectrum, you’re getting much more flavour and can pair with some spicier dishes. 

If you have a bottle of rosé it also works really well across a meal. it straddles both fish and meat dishes quite nicely.

The rosé category on the whole is not looked at very seriously, but I think it’s a very serious wine and it’s important to show some variety and reassure people that those darker styles might not necessarily be sweet.

Rosé can also be part of the trend for chilled reds. It’s great if someone wants a lighter red: have they considered that a darker style of rosé might achieve the same thing?

For a darker rosé, I really love the Vini Rabasco Cancelli Rosato. It’s a Montepulciano and definitely a fuller style, almost with some tannins, and it works really nicely with all fish dishes.

On the lighter side of the spectrum I really like the Can Sumoi La Rosa, which is from Pepe Raventós’s still winemaking project in Penedès. It has a really delicate herbaceous character in the background. It still fits into that pale-and-dry category, but I think it has a little bit more intrigue than something from Provence that people might be used to.

If you look back 10 years or so, it was a very female-dominated category, but I think by approaching it as a light red wine, we’ve managed to get a lot more guys on board.

Andy Trudgill, Gills & Co, Sheffield

We’ve got a rosé tasting booked in so we can introduce people to the different styles. As I’ve been talking to customers about the tasting, I think the general feedback is that they think the darker the rosé, the sweeter it will be. I think it’s a category where people are scared to try new things.

People want the pale southern French rosé, not necessarily from Provence, but they definitely don’t want dark. We have Minuty, and people really love it.

For our tasting we’ll have some sparkling in there and hopefully an English rosé, one from Abruzzo … just ones from all over so we can show off the different styles and flavour profiles.

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