Is Rosé Dead?

May 24, 2024by Andrew Lowry

For the better part of the last decade, rosé wine was drinking's "It Girl" - an affordable luxury embraced by millennials, idolized by influencers, and a sunny harbinger of warm weather appearing on patios and picnic baskets everywhere. However, in the years since the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the world, rosé's rose-tinted glow has started to fade.

Recent sales data tells the tale of rosé's diminishing cachet. According to Nielsen, rosé wine sales declined by 8.5% in 2022 versus the prior year. Compare that to the still wine category overall, which grew by 3.5% in that same period. Supplies of unsold rosé are piling up, with an oversupply glut estimated at over 30 million cases.

So what happened to America's favorite pink drink? The very diversity of rosé price points that fueled its meteoric rise may now be its biggest downfall in maintaining an aura of luxury and trendiness.

The Pricing Predicament When rosé started gaining major popularity in the early 2010s, much of the appeal stemmed from its positioning as an affordable indulgence - a "luxe for less" wine that felt fancy but didn't break the bank. Well-made rosés from Provence could be had for $15-20, while even budget picks from US producers were $10 or under.

However, as rosé demand skyrocketed, producers big and small piled into the category at virtually every price tier. Now in 2024, rosé spans an enormous range from $5 big brand bottles to Provencal prestige offerings over $50. While expanding the tent allowed more consumers to enjoy rosé, it also scattered its luxury identity.

"Rosé went from being a fun, unpretentious splurge to having an identity crisis," says Gabriel Pryce, Associate Director for the Wine & Spirits practice at Mintel. "At the high end, it's trying to be taken seriously as a premium product. But at the low end, it's getting treated as pretty much the same as White Claw or any other bevy in a can."

Pryce notes that a similar pricing expanson for products like Cold Brew coffee and Hard Seltzers also threated to diminish those categories' trendy appeal over time.

Oversupply and the Pandemic Hangover Another key factor behind rosé's fadingstardom has been a severe oversupply issue stemming from the pandemic.

In 2020 when covid restrictions went into effect, many wineries found themselves stuck with tons of unsold spring rosé inventory intended for restaurant sales and warm weather events that never happened. Anticipating a rosé renaissance in 2021, producers made even more rosé - only for another wave of lockdowns to curtail thatypicial summer rosé bump.

By the time things reopened more fully in 2022, wineries were sitting on an enormous backlog of 2020 and 2021 vintage rosé - an estimated 30 million cases by some accounts. Desperate to clear out this oversupply, many brands have been selling off older rosé vintages at steeply discounted prices under $10.

The unintended effect of flooding the market with ultra-cheap rosé is commoditizing the category and diminishing its premium cachet, especially among younger drinkers. "All those $6 rosés being pushed is making it a tougher sell as something classy and aspirational. It's just being treated like Franzia box wine now," says Pryce.

Rosé's Rivals Of course, no retrospective on rosé's fading would be complete without mentioning the category killers looming in its rearview. Spritzy, aperitif-inspired beverages like Aperol Spritzes and Ranch Waters have been siphoning away younger drinkers craving Instagram-worthy refreshers.

Mimosas and other brunchy cocktails and wine-based drinks have also seen a resurgence, fueled by society's rekindled love affair with day drinking and boozy brunches in the post-covid social renaissance. Hard seltzers, canned cocktails, and canned wines have also provided stiff competition for rosé's more portable, less fussy appeal.

According to Nielsen data, sales of Aperol were up 59% in 2022, while Mimosa ingredients like OJ and Triple Sec also posted double-digit growth. Early 2023 figures indicate the mimosa mania only intensifying.

"Everyone's kind of over the 'Rosé All Day' thing and on to the next beverage trend," observes Pryce. "Whether it's Ranch Waters, Bourbon Smashes, or just cracking a Clawed Mimosa, people are finding new ways to drink pink without it being a glass of rosé."

The Road Ahead To be clear, rosé wines aren't going anywhere. They remain immensely popular, accounting for over $2 billion in US sales annually. However, the bloom is certainly off the rosé after riding a multi-year high of being the hottest, most trendy alcoholic beverage.

Rosé is not dead! We love rosé and we think people look too much into trends. Drink whatever you like! While rosé wines may no longer be drinking's hottest new thing, they remain incredibly popular beverages accounting for over $2 billion in US sales annually. For those who truly enjoy the bright, crisp, fruit-driven flavors of a well-made rosé, no marketing gimmick or competitor can replace that simple pleasure.