The Vulgarization of Rosé, and Other Things the French Fear

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By Courtney Cochran

Chère Rosé, you mean the world to me.  You are so pure, your flavors so balanced (More approachable than red!  More filling than white!) I find myself fantasizing about you night and day.  Often I picture myself, feet up at the end of a long day, meditating on your pale pink robe, pausing to savor a sip so lush it takes my breath away.  

O Rosé!  You are so refreshing, you are so lively, you are the perfect companion to a slice of pâté or nutty frommage comté.  

I love you just as you are - never change, Rosé!


Your Biggest (AKA most loyal, ahem) French Fan

Mon Dieu! Rosé At Risk
You don't have to be a die-hard rosé fan to know there's something enchanting about the appealing style of wine that's neither white nor red. And while much has been made over the years about pink wines' romantic appeal, pitch-perfect summer coloring and remarkable flexibility in food pairing, little fuss has generally been raised about the way in which it's made.

Until now, that is.

With the EU on the brink of approving a controversial proposal that will allow European table wine producers to make rosé from a blend of red and white wine - in effect relaxing traditionally strict regulations that deemed rosé could only be made from red grapes, and by a process known as saignée (which means, effectively, to bleed color off of the skins of said red grapes) - scores of vintners in staunchly traditional France are raising cries of disapproval.

To Bleed or Not to Bleed, That Is the Question
Of course, the French are famous for doing things just so and declaring anything that flies in the face of so-called tradition a scandal (you may recall McDonald's bombings , crusades against fake luxury goods production and the like among the canon of French protest movements).  And producers may very well have a quality-control argument on their side, given that lifting restrictions on rosé production could result in significant amounts of sub-par rosé appearing on the market - which would no doubt erode the reputation of good-quality French rosé to a certain extent.

But with competition from New World rosé regions such as the US and Australia (two nations that permit blending in rosé production) on the up, rosé's biggest French fans may face a losing battle. At the end of the day, we live in a global marketplace - one where goods from around the world are widely available and often compete head-to-head on store shelves - and France's loosening of restrictions will allow its rosé vintners to compete on a level playing with rosés of all stripes. The way I see it, should French vintners choose to use the "short-cut" blending method of rosé production, so be it; and should they elect to persevere in making traditional rosés from the saignée method, so much the better for the stalwart producers who do.

The bottom line is that everyone can win with these changes. Just don't bother trying to console Rosé's Number One Fan - he's probably preoccupied plotting how to blow up the folks behind the new proposal.

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This just in from Decanter: "Former French farming activist Jose Bove has branded the agriculture minister Michel Barnier a 'liar' for his comments over the rose blending law..."

Zut alors!

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