Just had news through of a petition of French origin aimed at blocking an EU move to allow production of rosé wine by mixing red and white wines. Part of it states, “By signing this petition, I agree to support rosé wine whose quality results from vinification, and I oppose the notion that rosé can be made by mixing wines.”
I’ll translate into normal language. Most major red grapes have pale flesh. Red wines get their colour from the time the grapeskins spend in contact with the juice that comes from that flesh. A long time, and you have a deeply coloured wine; a short time, and it’s pink. That’s the way these people want rosé to be made. But what on earth is the problem with blending red and white to make pink? Just because it’s not the ‘traditional’ way doesn’t make it wrong – and it’s also how pink Champagne is made.
However, the uproar is the classic response from the French wine industry – anything that upsets the status quo is evil, if that square wheel was good enough for my Grandad Ackroyd, it’s good enough for moi. Rather than seek to compete with anything vaguely new, let’s slag it off, or go on strike about it, or overturn a tanker or two. Or come up with a petition.
Don’t get me wrong, France makes some brilliant rosés, far, far better than most of the stuff from California that is driving the increase in sales in the UK. Think Sancerre, think Corbières, think Côtes de Provence – some lovely wines that are great with food, unlike some of the oversweet clodhopping New World offerings. But rather than get out there and show the rest of the world just how good they are, too many producers are just sitting back waiting for customers to come to them. And of course if sales aren’t what they could be, it’s someone else’s fault – can we have a subsidy please?