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Red, White or Rosé?

Sept. 15, 2008 – While having lunch with some friends the other day, I was asked a simple question: What wines are customers buying more of recently? I had to think about this quite a bit because it made me realize that wine sales have changed significantly and rapidly over the past few years.
There was a time, not long ago, when you served white wine (or white wine spritzers) at cocktail parties or before dinner as a rule. People felt comfortable drinking whites. They tasted clean and fresh and with a little bubbly water it was easy to drink a few glasses.
As time went by, people started getting tired of the same old thing and looked for more interesting and complex tastes. There were lots of whites that were dryer, fruitier, oakier, heavier, lighter, more full bodied or whatever, and they wanted to get away from the traditional whites they were drinking.
The point is, tastes became more sophisticated and we became more discerning. We also became curious about other wines. Red wines started being appreciated. Reds are more varied in their complexities than whites, and different factors come into play.
Reds run a huge spectrum of tastes, they are fuller by nature as they are made with the skins of the grapes fermenting with the juice of the grape, whereas, whites are rarely fermented with the skins. The juice is pressed out of the grape, strained and fermented in one of many methods.
Once the red "juice" is fermented and strained, it is transferred to aging barrels and the true characteristics of the grape start to develop. The tannins, which are rarely found in white wines, start to do their magic on the red juice, and taste sensations that are found mainly in red wines start to develop. It is after this process that the red wine lover finds their Nirvana – it could be a velvety, thick, full bodied, tannic Bordeaux, or a lighter fruiter Beaujolais such as a Julianas or Brouilly. As a general rule, the heavier wines age better and a great wine comes out of the winemakers skill coupled with a great grape harvest year. In reds, 1995, 2000 and 2005 have been exceptional years for Bordeaux reds.
White wines are rarely aged, although there are exceptions. Whites are best within a few years of bottling and must be stored correctly or they will "turn." Heavier reds are more robust and can tolerate more variations in temperature, such as warmer storage. The killer to all wines being stored is dramatic changes from high to low and back again temperatures. All wines like a stable storage temperature.
Rosé wines are the delicate babes of the wine world. These seemingly simple wines are the fastest growing category of the three "colors." Rosé wines have found their glory, and are the wine of choice for islanders drinking wine on the deck of a boat on a Sunday afternoon, or paired with a delicious shrimp salad served in the garden under an umbrella on a long weekend barbecue. This is the wine for the islands. People who travel to the South of France in the summer enjoy a bottle of Rosé with their lunch and dinner and in between.
Rosés come in several forms, usually dry or very dry and sometimes a little sweet, and should always be served cold. Rosés are always crisp and refreshing.
Now to answer the question first asked: Reds comprise the lion's share of sales at about 45 percent, Whites 30 percent and Rosés at an astounding 25 percent this year. I recall just a few years ago when Rosé barely amounted to 10 percent, so there is a change in tastes!
Next month- Organic Wines explained.
I would love to hear back from my readers with comments or questions. Please e-mail me at: frank@viwinewholesale.com or check out our Web site: www.viwinewholesale.com

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