Devil's Advocate - Why is Pink Wine Taking Over in France?

Rosé wine has overtaken white in France and could even surpass red to become the most popular style of all. Robert Joseph considers the implications.

Reading time: 3m 15s

French Rosé Sales - Source: American Association of Wine Economists / France Agrimer
French Rosé Sales - Source: American Association of Wine Economists / France Agrimer

From 1988 to around 2000, sales of pink and white wines in France were very similar, rising over that period from around 100m bottles to 200m. Then, while white sales plateaued for the next 20 years, those of rosé almost doubled.

Meanwhile, according to official data from France Agrimer, recently published in a chart by the Association of American Wine Economists, between 1994 and 2020, French red wine sales plummeted, from around a billion bottles to less than 500m.

If this downward red trend were to continue, even if pink wine fails to win any more converts, over the next decade it could conceivably become France’s most popular style. Globally, the growth in rosé consumption has been only a little less dramatic - rising by 23% between 2002-2019 and further expansion in sales is predicted by almost all analysts. 

Of course, it is always dangerous to believe predictions or to extrapolate from any kind of chart. As advertisements for investment funds are required to point out in some countries, “past performance does not guarantee future results”. However, even if the decline in the popularity of red wine slows or comes to a halt, pink wine is now clearly far more of a runner in this race than is usually acknowledged.

Not just Provence

Looking at any wine magazine or book, or at the results of any wine competition it would be hard to imagine just how much rosé is now being sold and consumed. Apart from Provence – which, by my estimation accounts for less than 15% of French rosé sales, few regions’ pink wines get more than a passing mention.

For far too many, rosé still carries the stigma of being ‘summer wine’, ‘for the ladies’ or, as one American recently put it 'for the rubes' - who'll apparently use it as the vinous equivalent of a novice swimmer's armbands. Even among the more evolved, despite the efforts of Sacha Lichine and a growing band of others in Provence, and of Gérard Bertrand in Languedoc, there has been limited readiness to treat it as seriously as a white or red.

Insights Wine

Can rosé ever be considered fine wine? Gérard Bertrand not only thinks so, he launched the most expensive rosé in the world to prove it. Now he’s got his sights set on orange wine, as Robert Joseph reports.

Reading time: 6m 15s

And, to be fair, the wine itself and its producers don’t make things easier. It is possible to produce pink wine from a wide range of black grapes, but few of these are mentioned on labels. And all those pink-producing places outside Provence are going to have to put a lot more effort into promoting themselves.

Right now, however, little of this really matters. Rosé is first and foremost a brilliant win-win product for the people who make, and the ones who drink it. Producers – though they might not say so out loud – love its ease of production and profitability (no need for oak barrels and lots of opportunity for blending, possibly with less pricy grapes and a gram or two of residual sugar). And their accountants appreciate its cashflow benefits (sell it within months of the harvest).

As for wine drinkers, rosé’s appeal lies in its simplicity: the way that it unashamedly refuses to tick so many of the boxes that matter to ‘wine people’ and are of little or no importance to them.


  • Which are the most ideal food partners for any particular pink wine?
    Who cares?
  • What is the ideal rosé glass?
    From a jam jar or a tumbler to Zalto, it’s entirely up to you.
  • How many points did it get?
    Who’s counting?
  • When to drink it?
    As soon as you’ve got it home and chilled it.
  • Which brand to remember?
    The distinctively-shaped bottle shape you bought last time.


The only two factors that really matter to most rosé drinkers are relative fruitiness and sweetness. And nowadays – like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris – so much rosé is made to a basic formula, that unpalatable surprises are pretty rare.

This state of affairs cannot be maintained, however. Given the laws of human nature and the capitalist system, rosé is going to evolve.

The evolution of pink

On the one hand, it will be ‘premiumized’ (shorthand for saying ‘made even more profitable’) and ‘geekified’. Navarra, Corsica, Rosato, Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Sangiovese and Montepulciano will all begin to creep into the casual wine drinker’s vocabulary.

But, in truth, I suspect that while this last trend will give wine critics more to write about, fundamentally, little will change. Rosé will be like a vinous counterpart of whisky. Most people will happily drink a familiar brand or style, while some will shell out for a more premium version – without knowing or caring precisely why it has a bigger price tag. And, like single-malt fans, a small minority will develop a passion for serious, characterful, single-vineyard rosés.

And all the while, in traditional and emerging markets ranging from Asia to Africa, people will be increasingly asking for pink rather than red or white - simply because they like the way it tastes.


Rosé wines are enjoying an extraordinary boom, but they are still struggling to command premium prices. But, as Roger Morris discovers, this situation is starting to change.

Reading time: 7m



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